Monday, January 24, 2011 6:15 AM

Biblical Knowledge

Monday, January 24, 2011 6:15 AM
Monday, January 24, 2011 6:15 AM

knowledge, i.e., possess information about, knowledge with focus on moral qualities and its application

 This root, occurring a total of 944 times, is used in every stem and expresses a multitude of shades of knowledge gained by the senses. Its closest synonyms are “to discern” and “to recognize.” The root is found in Akkadian, Ugaritic, and the Qumran materials. In addition to “know,” the KJV uses the archaic forms “wot” and “wist.”

 It is used of God’s knowledge of man (Gen 18:19; Deut 34:10) and his ways (Isa 48:8; Ps 1:6; 37:18), which knowledge begins even before birth (Jer 1:5). God also knows the fowl (Ps 50:11).

 It is also used for man’s knowledge and for that of animals (Isa 1:3).

The participle occurs in phrases describing skill in hunting (Gen 25:27), learning (Isa 29:11–13), lamentation (Amos 5:16), sailing the sea (II Chr 8:18), and playing an instrument (I Sam 16:16).

 In certain contexts it means “to distinguish.” “To know good and evil” (Gen 3:5, 22) is the result of disobeying God. To distinguish between these is necessary for the king (II Sam 19:36). A child cannot distinguish between the left and right hands (Jon 4:11) nor between good and evil (Deut 1:39; Isa 7:15). The context of the latter passage and the similar statement in Isa 8:4 may indicate that the reference is to a child’s not being able to distinguish what is beneficial and harmful. While ordinarily gained by experience, knowledge is also the contemplative perception possessed by the wise man (Prov 1:4; 2:6; 5:2; Eccl 1:18).

 In addition to knowledge of secular matters is also used of one’s relation to the divine, whether acquaintance with other gods (Deut 13:3, 7, 14) or with Jehovah (I Sam 2:12; 3:7). The heathen do not know God (Jer 10:25) and neither does Israel, according to the prophets (Jer 4:22). The plagues of Egypt were sent so that the Egyptians might know that Jehovah is God (Ex 10:2, etc.). He will destroy (Ezk 6:7) and restore Israel so that they may know that he is God (Isa 60:16). The prophet Ezekiel, in particular, uses the phrase “that you may know” in his threats (Ezk 6:7, 10, 13, 14; 7:4, 9, 27, etc.).

  Knowledge. This feminine noun is translated gn?sis in the LXX, and scientia in the Vulgate. The Lord is a God of all knowledge (Job 36:4; I Sam 2:3). The wicked question his knowledge (Ps 73:11). He is the object of man’s knowledge, and Isaiah envisions an earth full of the knowledge of the Lord (Isa 11:9). The prophet preaches knowledge (Isa 28:9) and the ideal ruler rules by it (Jer 3:15).

 Knowledge, cunning (ASV and RSV similar). This feminine noun is from the “to know.” The root expresses knowledge gained in various ways by the senses. The noun occurs ninety-three times in the Old Testament, most frequently in the wisdom literature, with forty-one instances in Prov, ten in Job, and nine in Eccl.

 It is also used for moral cognition. Thus the tree in the Garden of Eden was a tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen 2:9, 17). By eating its fruit man came to know in a way comparable to the knowledge of God (see above). This important reference may also be taken as the figure of speech known as merism to indicate objective awareness of all things both good and bad. In this sense the sinful pain did become like God (Gen 3:22). Cassuto says, “Before they ate of the tree of knowledge, the man and his wife were like small children who know nought of what exists round them” (U. Cassuto, Genesis, vol. I, p. 112).

 Particularly distinctive is the prophetic concept of “knowledge of God” which is particularly prominent in Hosea (4:1, 6; 6:6; cf. Prov 2:5). Knowledge of God is derived from those outstanding historical events in which God has evidenced and has revealed himself to chosen individuals such as Abraham and Moses. These revelations are to be taught to others. “Knowledge of God” appears in parallel with “fear of the Lord” Isa 11:2: cf. 58:2; Jer 22:16) as a description of true religion. The man who has a right relation with God confesses him and obeys him. To do justice and righteousness and to judge the cause of the poor and the needy is to know God (Jer 22:15–16). On the other hand where there is no knowledge of God there is swearing, lying, killing, stealing, committing adultery and breaking all bonds (Hos 4:1–2). Such will bring destruction upon a people (Hos 4:6; cf. Isa 5:13). Knowledge of God is more pleasing to him than sacrifice (Hos 6:6). The prophetic view of the messianic age is of a time in which the knowledge of God covers the earth as water covers the sea (Hab 2:14; cf. Isa 11:9).

Harris, R. L., Harris, R. L., Archer, G. L., & Waltke, B. K. (1999). Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (electronic ed.) (366–367). Chicago: Moody Press.

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