Bible Dictionary


Olympas: a Roman Christian whom Paul salutes (Rom. 16:15).

Omar: eloquent, the son of Eliphaz, who was Esau's eldest son (Gen. 36:11-15).

Omega: (Rev. 1:8), the last letter in the Greek alphabet. (See A

Omer: a handful, one-tenth of an ephah=half a gallon dry measure (Ex. 16:22, 32, 33, 36)='tenth deal.'

Omri: servant of Jehovah. When Elah was murdered by Zimri at Tirzah (1 Kings 16:15-27), Omri, his captain, was made king (B.C. 931). For four years there was continued opposition to his reign, Tibni, another claimant to the throne, leading the opposing party; but at the close of that period all his rivals were defeated, and he became king of Israel, 'Tibni died and Omri reigned' (B.C. 927). By his vigour and power he gained great eminence and consolidated the kingdom. He fixed his dynasty on the throne so firmly that it continued during four succeeding reigns. Tirza was for six years the seat of his government. He then removed the capital to Samaria (q.v.), where he died, and was succeeded by his son Ahab. 'He wrought evil in the eyes of the Lord, and did worse than all that were before him.'

On: light; the sun, (Gen. 41:45, 50), the great seat of sun-worship, called also Bethshemesh (Jer. 43:13) and Aven (Ezek. 30:17), stood on the east bank of the Nile, a few miles north of Memphis, and near Cairo, in the north-east. The Vulgate and the LXX. Versions have 'Heliopolis' ('city of the sun') instead of On in Genesis and of Aven in Ezekiel. The 'city of destruction' Isaiah speaks of (19:18, marg. 'of Heres;' Heb. 'Ir-ha-heres, which some MSS. read Ir-ha-heres, i.e., 'city of the sun') may be the name given to On, the prophecy being that the time will come when that city which was known as the 'city of the sun-god' shall become the 'city of destruction' of the sun-god, i.e., when idolatry shall cease, and the worship of the true God be established.

Onan: strong, the second son of Judah (Gen. 38:4-10; comp. Deut. 25:5; Matt. 22:24). He died before the going down of Jacob and his family into Egypt.

Onesimus: useful, a slave who, after robbing his master Philemon (q.v.) at Colosse, fled to Rome, where he was converted by the apostle Paul, who sent him back to his master with the epistle which bears his name. In it he beseeches Philemon to receive his slave as a 'faithful and beloved brother.' Paul offers to pay to Philemon anything his slave had taken, and to bear the wrong he had done him. He was accompanied on his return by Tychicus, the bearer of the Epistle to the Colossians (Philemon 1:16, 18).

Onesiphorus: bringing profit, an Ephesian Christian who showed great kindness to Paul at Rome. He served him in many things, and had oft refreshed him. Paul expresses a warm interest in him and his household (2 Tim. 1:16-18; 4:19).

Onion: The Israelites in the wilderness longed for the 'onions and garlick of Egypt' (Num. 11:5). This was the _betsel_ of the Hebrews, the Allium cepe of botanists, of which it is said that there are some thirty or forty species now growing in Palestine. The onion is 'the 'undivided' leek, _unio_, _unus_, one.'

Ono: a town of Benjamin, in the 'plain of Ono' (1 Chr. 8:12; Ezra 2:33); now Kefr 'Ana, 5 miles north of Lydda, and about 30 miles north-west of Jerusalem. Not succeeding in their attempts to deter Nehemiah from rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, Sanballat and Tobiah resorted to strategem, and pretending to wish a conference with him, they invited him to meet them at Ono. Four times they made the request, and every time Nehemiah refused to come. Their object was to take him prisoner.

Onycha: a nail; claw; hoof, (Heb. sheheleth; Ex. 30:34), a Latin word applied to the operculum, i.e., the claw or nail of the strombus or wing-shell, a univalve common in the Red Sea. The opercula of these shell-fish when burned emit a strong odour 'like castoreum.' This was an ingredient in the sacred incense.

Onyx: a hail; claw; hoof, (Heb. shoham), a precious stone adorning the breast-plate of the high priest and the shoulders of the ephod (Ex. 28:9-12, 20; 35:27; Job 28:16; Ezek. 28:13). It was found in the land of Havilah (Gen. 2:12). The LXX. translates the Hebrew word by smaragdos, an emerald. Some think that the sardonyx is meant. But the onyx differs from the sardonyx in this, that while the latter has two layers (black and white) the former has three (black, white, and red).

Open place: Gen. 38:14, 21, mar. Enaim; the same probably as Enam (Josh. 15:34), a city in the lowland or Shephelah.

Ophel: hill; mound, the long, narrow, rounded promontory on the southern slope of the temple hill, between the Tyropoeon and the Kedron valley (2 Chr. 27:3; 33:14; Neh. 3:26, 27). It was surrounded by a separate wall, and was occupied by the Nethinim after the Captivity. This wall has been discovered by the engineers of the Palestine Exploration Fund at the south-eastern angle of the temple area. It is 4 feet below the present surface. In 2 Kings 5:24 this word is translated 'tower' (R.V., 'hill'), denoting probably some eminence near Elisha's house.

Ophir: (1.) One of the sons of Joktan (Gen. 10:29).

Ophni: mouldy, a city of Benjamin (Josh. 18:24).

Ophrah: a fawn. 1 Chr. 4:14. (1.) A city of Benjamin (Josh. 18:23); probably identical with Ephron (2 Chr. 13:19) and Ephraim (John 11:54).

Oracle: In the Old Testament used in every case, except 2 Sam. 16:23, to denote the most holy place in the temple (1 Kings 6:5, 19-23; 8:6). In 2 Sam. 16:23 it means the Word of God. A man inquired 'at the oracle of God' by means of the Urim and Thummim in the breastplate on the high priest's ephod. In the New Testament it is used only in the plural, and always denotes the Word of God (Rom. 3:2; Heb. 5:12, etc.). The Scriptures are called 'living oracles' (comp. Heb. 4:12) because of their quickening power (Acts 7:38).

Oreb: raven, a prince of Midian, who, being defeated by Gideon and put to straits, was slain along with Zeeb (Judg. 7:20-25). Many of the Midianites perished along with him (Ps. 83:9; Isa. 10:26).

Oreb, The rock of: the place where Gideon slew Oreb after the defeat of the Midianites (Judg. 7:25; Isa. 10:26). It was probably the place now called Orbo, on the east of Jordan, near Bethshean.

Oren: ash or pine, the son of Jerahmeel (1 Chr. 2:25).

Organ: some kind of wind instrument, probably a kind of Pan's pipes (Gen. 4:21; Job 21:12; Ps. 150:4), which consisted of seven or eight reeds of unequal length.

Orion: Heb. Kesil; i.e., 'the fool', the name of a constellation (Job 9:9; 38:31; Amos 5:8) consisting of about eighty stars. The Vulgate renders thus, but the LXX. renders by Hesperus, i.e., 'the evening-star,' Venus. The Orientals 'appear to have conceived of this constellation under the figure of an impious giant bound upon the sky.' This giant was, according to tradition, Nimrod, the type of the folly that contends against God. In Isa. 13:10 the plural form of the Hebrew word is rendered 'constellations.'

Ornan: 1 Chr. 21:15. (See ARAUNAH.)

Orpah: forelock or fawn, a Moabitess, the wife of Chilion (Ruth 1:4; 4:10). On the death of her husband she accompanied Naomi, her mother-in-law, part of the way to Bethlehem, and then returned to Moab.

Orphans: (Lam. 5:3), i.e., desolate and without protectors. The word occurs only here. In John 14:18 the word there rendered 'comfortless' (R.V., 'desolate;' marg., 'orphans') properly means 'orphans.' The same Greek word is rendered 'fatherless' in James 1:27.

Osprey: Heb. 'ozniyyah, an unclean bird according to the Mosaic law (Lev. 11:13; Deut. 14:12); the fish-eating eagle (Pandion haliaetus); one of the lesser eagles. But the Hebrew word may be taken to denote the short-toed eagle (Circaetus gallicus of Southern Europe), one of the most abundant of the eagle tribe found in Palestine.

Ossifrage: Heb. peres = to 'break' or 'crush', the lammer-geier, or bearded vulture, the largest of the whole vulture tribe. It was an unclean bird (Lev. 11:13; Deut. 14:12). It is not a gregarious bird, and is found but rarely in Palestine. 'When the other vultures have picked the flesh off any animal, he comes in at the end of the feast, and swallows the bones, or breaks them, and swallows the pieces if he cannot otherwise extract the marrow. The bones he cracks [hence the appropriateness of the name ossifrage, i.e., 'bone-breaker'] by letting them fall on a rock from a great height. He does not, however, confine himself to these delicacies, but whenever he has an opportunity will devour lambs, kids, or hares. These he generally obtains by pushing them over cliffs, when he has watched his opportunity; and he has been known to attack men while climbing rocks, and dash them against the bottom. But tortoises and serpents are his ordinary food...No doubt it was a lammer-geier that mistook the bald head of the poet AEschylus for a stone, and dropped on it the tortoise which killed him' (Tristram's Nat. Hist.).

Ostrich: (Lam. 4:3), the rendering of Hebrew pl. enim; so called from its greediness and gluttony. The allusion here is to the habit of the ostrich with reference to its eggs, which is thus described: 'The outer layer of eggs is generally so ill covered that they are destroyed in quantities by jackals, wild-cats, etc., and that the natives carry them away, only taking care not to leave the marks of their footsteps, since, when the ostrich comes and finds that her nest is discovered, she crushes the whole brood, and builds a nest elsewhere.' In Job 39:13 this word in the Authorized Version is the rendering of a Hebrew word (notsah) which means 'feathers,' as in the Revised Version. In the same verse the word 'peacocks' of the Authorized Version is the rendering of the Hebrew pl. renanim, properly meaning 'ostriches,' as in the Revised Version. (See OWL [1].)

Othni: a lion of Jehovah, a son of Shemaiah, and one of the temple porters in the time of David (1 Chr. 26:7). He was a 'mighty man of valour.'

Othniel: lion of God, the first of the judges. His wife Achsah was the daughter of Caleb (Josh. 15:16, 17; Judg. 1:13). He gained her hand as a reward for his bravery in leading a successful expedition against Debir (q.v.). Some thirty years after the death of Joshua, the Israelites fell under the subjection of Chushan-rishathaim (q.v.), the king of Mesopotamia. He oppressed them for full eight years, when they 'cried' unto Jehovah, and Othniel was raised up to be their deliverer. He was the younger brother of Caleb (Judg. 3:8, 9-11). He is the only judge mentioned connected with the tribe of Judah. Under him the land had rest forty years.

Ouches: an Old English word denoting cavities or sockets in which gems were set (Ex. 28:11).

Oven: Heb. tannur, (Hos. 7:4). In towns there appear to have been public ovens. There was a street in Jerusalem (Jer. 37:21) called 'bakers' street' (the only case in which the name of a street in Jerusalem is preserved). The words 'tower of the furnaces' (Neh. 3:11; 12:38) is more properly 'tower of the ovens' (Heb. tannurim). These resemble the ovens in use among ourselves.

Owl: (1.) Heb. bath-haya'anah, 'daughter of greediness' or of 'shouting.' In the list of unclean birds (Lev. 11:16; Deut. 14:15); also mentioned in Job 30:29; Isa. 13:21; 34:13; 43:20; Jer. 50:39; Micah 1:8. In all these passages the Revised Version translates 'ostrich' (q.v.), which is the correct rendering.

Ox: Heb. bakar, 'cattle;' 'neat cattle', (Gen. 12:16; 34:28; Job 1:3, 14; 42:12, etc.); not to be muzzled when treading the corn (Deut. 25:4). Referred to by our Lord in his reproof to the Pharisees (Luke 13:15; 14:5).

Ox goad: mentioned only in Judg. 3:31, the weapon with which Shamgar (q.v.) slew six hundred Philistines. 'The ploughman still carries his goad, a weapon apparently more fitted for the hand of the soldier than the peaceful husbandman. The one I saw was of the 'oak of Bashan,' and measured upwards of ten feet in length. At one end was an iron spear, and at the other a piece of the same metal flattened. One can well understand how a warrior might use such a weapon with effect in the battle-field' (Porter's Syria, etc.). (See GOAD.)

Ozem: strong. (1.) One of David's brothers; the sixth son of Jesse (1 Chr. 2:15).

Ozias: son of Joram (Matt. 1:8); called also Uzziah (2 Kings 15:32, 34).

Ozni: hearing, one of the sons of Gad; also called Ezbon (Gen. 46:16; Num. 26:16).

Oak: There are six Hebrew words rendered 'oak.'

Oath: a solemn appeal to God, permitted on fitting occasions (Deut. 6:13; Jer. 4:2), in various forms (Gen. 16:5; 2 Sam. 12:5; Ruth 1:17; Hos. 4:15; Rom. 1:9), and taken in different ways (Gen. 14:22; 24:2; 2 Chr. 6:22). God is represented as taking an oath (Heb. 6:16-18), so also Christ (Matt. 26:64), and Paul (Rom. 9:1; Gal. 1:20; Phil. 1:8). The precept, 'Swear not at all,' refers probably to ordinary conversation between man and man (Matt. 5:34,37). But if the words are taken as referring to oaths, then their intention may have been to show 'that the proper state of Christians is to require no oaths; that when evil is expelled from among them every yea and nay will be as decisive as an oath, every promise as binding as a vow.'

Obadiah: servant of the Lord. (1.) An Israelite who was chief in the household of King Ahab (1 Kings 18:3). Amid great spiritual degeneracy he maintained his fidelity to God, and interposed to protect The Lord's prophets, an hundred of whom he hid at great personal risk in a cave (4, 13). Ahab seems to have held Obadiah in great honour, although he had no sympathy with his piety (5, 6, 7). The last notice of him is his bringing back tidings to Ahab that Elijah, whom he had so long sought for, was at hand (9-16). 'Go,' said Elijah to him, when he met him in the way, 'go tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah is here.'

Obadiah, Book of: consists of one chapter, 'concerning Edom,' its impending doom (1:1-16), and the restoration of Israel (1:17-21). This is the shortest book of the Old Testament.

Obal: stripped, the eight son of Joktan (Gen. 10:28); called also Ebal (1 Chr. 1:22).

Obed: serving; worshipping. (1.) A son of Boaz and Ruth (Ruth 4:21, 22), and the grandfather of David (Matt. 1:5).

Obed-Edom: servant of Edom. (1.) 'The Gittite' (probably so called because he was a native of Gath-rimmon), a Levite of the family of the Korhites (1 Chr. 26:1, 4-8), to whom was specially intrusted the custody of the ark (1 Chr. 15:18). When David was bringing up the ark 'from the house of Abinadab, that was in Gibeah' (probably some hill or eminence near Kirjath-jearim), and had reached Nachon's threshing-floor, he became afraid because of the 'breach upon Uzzah,' and carried it aside into the house of Obededom (2 Sam. 6:1-12). There it remained for six months, and was to him and his house the occasion of great blessing. David then removed it with great rejoicing to Jerusalem, and set it in the midst of the tabernacle he had pitched for it.

Obeisance: homage or reverence to any one (Gen. 37:7; 43:28).

Obil: a keeper of camels, an Ishmaelite who was 'over the camels' in the time of David (1 Chr. 27:30).

Oboth: bottles, an encampment of the Israelites during the wanderings in the wilderness (Num. 33:43), the first after the setting up of the brazen serpent.

Oded: restoring, or setting up. (1.) Father of the prophet Azariah (2 Chr. 15:1, 8).

Offence: (1.) An injury or wrong done to one (1 Sam. 25:31; Rom. 5:15).

Offering: an oblation, dedicated to God. Thus Cain consecrated to God of the first-fruits of the earth, and Abel of the firstlings of the flock (Gen. 4:3, 4). Under the Levitical system different kinds of offerings are specified, and laws laid down as to their presentation. These are described under their distinctive names.

Og: gigantic, the king of Bashan, who was defeated by Moses in a pitched battle at Edrei, and was slain along with his sons (Deut. 1:4), and whose kingdom was given to the tribes of Reuben and Gad and half the tribe of Manasseh (Num. 21:32-35; Deut. 3:1-13). His bedstead (or rather sarcophagus) was of iron (or ironstone), 9 cubits in length and 4 cubits in breadth. His overthrow was afterwards celebrated in song (Ps. 135:11; 136:20). (See SIHON.)

Ohad: united, or power, the third son of Simeon (Gen. 46:10).

Ohel: a house; tent, the fourth son of Zerubbabel (1 Chr. 3:20).

Oil: Only olive oil seems to have been used among the Hebrews. It was used for many purposes: for anointing the body or the hair (Ex. 29:7; 2 Sam. 14:2; Ps. 23:5; 92:10; 104:15; Luke 7:46); in some of the offerings (Ex. 29:40; Lev. 7:12; Num. 6:15; 15:4), but was excluded from the sin-offering (Lev. 5:11) and the jealousy-offering (Num. 5:15); for burning in lamps (Ex. 25:6; 27:20; Matt. 25:3); for medicinal purposes (Isa. 1:6; Luke 10:34; James 5:14); and for anointing the dead (Matt. 26:12; Luke 23:56).

Oil-tree: (Isa. 41:19; R.V. marg., 'oleaster'), Heb. 'etz shemen, rendered 'olive tree' in 1 Kings 6:23, 31, 32, 33 (R.V., 'olive wood') and 'pine branches' in Neh. 8:15 (R.V., 'branches of wild olive'), was some tree distinct from the olive. It was probably the oleaster (Eleagnus angustifolius), which grows abundantly in almost all parts of Palestine, especially about Hebron and Samaria. 'It has a fine hard wood,' says Tristram, 'and yields an inferior oil, but it has no relationship to the olive, which, however, it resembles in general appearance.'

Ointment: Various fragrant preparations, also compounds for medical purposes, are so called (Ex. 30:25; Ps. 133:2; Isa. 1:6; Amos 6:6; John 12:3; Rev. 18:13).

Old gate: one of the gates in the north wall of Jerusalem, so called because built by the Jebusites (Neh. 3:6; 12:39).

Olive: the fruit of the olive-tree. This tree yielded oil which was highly valued. The best oil was from olives that were plucked before being fully ripe, and then beaten or squeezed (Deut. 24:20; Isa. 17:6; 24:13). It was called 'beaten,' or 'fresh oil' (Ex. 27:20). There were also oil-presses, in which the oil was trodden out by the feet (Micah 6:15). James (3:12) calls the fruit 'olive berries.' The phrase 'vineyards and olives' (Judg. 15:5, A.V.) should be simply 'olive-yard,' or 'olive-garden,' as in the Revised Version. (See OIL.)

Olive-tree: is frequently mentioned in Scripture. The dove from the ark brought an olive-branch to Noah (Gen. 8:11). It is mentioned among the most notable trees of Palestine, where it was cultivated long before the time of the Hebrews (Deut. 6:11; 8:8). It is mentioned in the first Old Testament parable, that of Jotham (Judg. 9:9), and is named among the blessings of the 'good land,' and is at the present day the one characteristic tree of Palestine. The oldest olive-trees in the country are those which are enclosed in the Garden of Gethsemane. It is referred to as an emblem of prosperity and beauty and religious privilege (Ps. 52:8; Jer. 11:16; Hos. 14:6). The two 'witnesses' mentioned in Rev. 11:4 are spoken of as 'two olive trees standing before the God of the earth.' (Comp. Zech. 4:3, 11-14.)

Olves, Mount of: so called from the olive trees with which its sides are clothed, is a mountain ridge on the east of Jerusalem (1 Kings 11:7; Ezek. 11:23; Zech. 14:4), from which it is separated by the valley of Kidron. It is first mentioned in connection with David's flight from Jerusalem through the rebellion of Absalom (2 Sam. 15:30), and is only once again mentioned in the Old Testament, in Zech. 14:4. It is, however, frequently alluded to (1 Kings 11:7; 2 Kings 23:13; Neh. 8:15; Ezek. 11:23).