"Not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy
Spirit teacheth" (I Cor. ii. 13).
In our last paper upon this important theme we submitted to the reader
the Scriptural meaning and usage of two Hebrew words, viz., abad and
shamad, and found that in the first case the word "perish " was an
unequivocal and true rendering, and that in the second instance the
meaning was "to destroy," or "to be destroyed."
There is another word which is translated " to destroy," and that is
the Hebrew word tsamath. The following is a list of the renderings in
the A.V., with the number of occurrences: " cut off," 8 times; "
consume," once; "destroy," 5 times; "vanish," once; "for ever," twice.
In Psa. ci. 8 we read, "Morning by morning I will destroy all the
wicked of the land" (R.V. marg.) The Psa]m has for its theme, "The
coming King and His rule." In that day sin will be summarily dealt
with, even as we have a foreshadowing of the kingdom in the judgment
which fell upon Ananias and Sapphira, as recorded in the Acts of the
Apostles. The Scriptures enlarge upon this meaning in no uncertain way
in 2 Sam. xxii. 41, 43:D
"Thou hast also given me the necks of mine enemies, that I might
destroy them that hate me .... then did I beat them as small as the
dust of the earth, I did stamp them as the mire of the street, and did
spread them abroad."
Making all due allowance for the figurative language of the passage,
the meaning is evident to all. There is an interesting illustration of
its use in Lev. xxv. 23, 30, the word translated "for ever" being the
feminine form of tsamath. "The land shall not be sold for ever
margin 'To be quite cut off') for the land is Mine." The land belonged
to the Lord, and all transactions relative to its sale were limited by
the number of years to the Jubilee, when the possession reverted to the
original owner. The case of a "dwelling house in a walled city,"
however, was different, that was man's erection:D
"If a man sell a dwelling house in a walled city, then he may redeem it
within a whole year after it is sold .... and if it be not redeemed
within the space of a full year, then the house that is within a walled
city shall be established forever to him that bought it throughout his
geuerations, it shall not go out in the Jubile " (Lev. xxv. 29, 30).
The use of this word translated "for ever" is striking; when once the
house passes beyond redemption it is absolutely beyond recovery. So
far as the original ownership is concerned it is "cut off," it has
Let us think of this when we read Psa. xciv. 23, "He shall bring upon
them their own iniquity, and shall cut them off in their own
wickedness, yea, the Lord our God shall cut them off ." Beyond
redemption! Cut off!! What a word is this! Jeremiah when cast into
the dungeon said, "They have cut off my life in the dungeon, and cast a
stone upon me " (Lam. iii. 53). Jeremiah realized that unless the
Lord came to his help, he was shut up in that which would prove to be
his tomb. Praise be to God, we are taught not to fear those that,
after having killed the body, have no more that they can do, but rather
to fear Him that is able to destroy both body and soul in
vi. supplies us with one more illustration. Verses 14D21 of this
chapter deal with Job's estimate of his friends:
"My brethren have dealt deceitfully as a brook, and as the stream of
brooks they pass away .... what time they wax warm they vanish; when it
is hot they are consumed out of their place. The paths of their way
are turned aside; they go to nothing, and perish."
Job uses a powerful illustration here. The transitory character of the
mountain stream, which lasts only until it waxes warm, and thenvanishes into the atmosphere. This word "vanish" is the word
and once again we are not left in doubt as to its meaning. Reviewing,
we find that this word means, "to be cut off," "to be deprived" either
of being, existence, identity, or relationship. This is one of the
words used to describe the sinner's end. He is to be cut off
from the living God, he will be destroyed (shamad), and he will
consequently perish (abad).
We will now turn our attention to another Hebrew word, namely,
karath. In its various forms it is translated in the A.V. " cut off," 88 times,
" be cut off," 59 times " cut down," 19 times, and " cut," "destroy,"
"hewn down," "perish." It is further rendered " covenant," twice, and
"make a covenant," 84 times. Its primary meaning is " to cut off" as a
branch (Num. xiii. 23), "to cut down " as a tree (Isa. xxxvii. 24).
The word kerithuth -- a feminine noun from karath -- is translated "
divorce " and " divorcement " in Deut. xxiv. 1, 3; Isa. 1. 1; Jer. iii.
Karath is used continually with reference to the cutting up of the
bodies of the animals slain for sacrificial purposes (Jer. xxxiv. 18).
Psalm 1.5 literally rendered is, "those who have cut in pieces My
victim in sacrifice." Gen. xv. 9D17 is an illustration of the practice
of cutting or dividing the bodies of the victims, but in this passage
another word is used instead of karath. This word karath is used in
that solemn prophecy of Dan. ix. 26, "Messiah shall be cut off and
shall have nothing." This cutting off was the death on the Cross. " He
was cut off (gazer) out of the land of the living."
The repeated threat found in the law against offenders is, " that soul
shall be cut off from among his people " (Ex. xii. 15; Lev. xix. 8;
Num. xv. 30, &c.). The words of Jer. xlviii. 2, " Come, let us cut it
off from being a nation," give us some idea of the force of the word,
but when we read it in Gen. ix. 11 in reference to the Flood, we
realize how tremendous this cutting off really is. There in Gen. ix.
the words " cut off " correspond to the words " destroy " and " die "
of vi. 17 and ix. 11, and " curse " and " smite " of Gen. viii. 21.
Turning from these historical references we find that this severe
judgment is held over the head of impenitent sinners:
"Evil doers shall be cut off" (Psa. xxxvii. 9).
"The end of the wicked shall be cut off" (Psa. xxxvii. 38).
We have already said that the primary meaning of the word karath had
reference to the cutting down of a tree. This is clearly substantiated
by reading the closing verses of Psa. xxxvii. The words " cut off"
occur five times in this Psalm (verses 9, 22, 28, 34, 38). If in verse
9 we read that the evildoers shall be cut off, we read in verse 10, "
For but a little while, and the wicked shall not be," and lest the
reader should object to this strong term indicative of extinction, the
Scripture continues, " Yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place,
and it shall not be."
Verse 28 says, " The seed of the wicked shall be cut off "; the
antithesis is given in the sentence before concerning the saints, "
They are preserved for ever." Verse 34 says, " When the wicked are cut
off, thou shalt see it." We are not left to our own speculation as to
what the saints shall see, for verses 35, 36 continue and give us the
figure of the wicked " like a green bay tree D yet he passed
lo, he was not, yea, I sought him, but he could not be found." The "end" of the righteous is "peace," "but the transgressors shall be
destroyed together and the end of the wicked shall be cut off."
Again, by referring to verses 9, 22, 28 and 34 we shall see that the
wicked shall be " cut off " from the inheritance:
"For evildoers shall be cut off, but those that wait on the Lord, they
shall inherit the earth."
"For such a be blessed of Him shall inherit the earth."
"And they that be cursed of Him shall be cut off" (cf. Matt
"The seed of the wicked shall be cut off."
"The righteous shall inherit the land."
"He shall exalt thee to inherit the land."
"When the wicked shall be cut off, thou shalt see it."
This judgment, then, deprives those upon whom it falls not only of any
share in the kingdom of the heavens and the peace of God (verses 11 and
37), but blots them out, or cuts them down as a tree, so effectually
that twice in this Psalm the words indicative of extinction are used
(verses 10 and 36). The reference to a tree is also found in the next
occurrence (Prov. ii. 22). "The wicked shall be cut off from the earth
and the transgressors shall be rooted out of it." The one passage in
the A.V. wherein the word karath is rendered "perish" has reference to
the vegetation of the country perishing by reason of famine, viz., Gen.
xli. 36, " that the land perish not through famine."
Again we pause to consider the testimony of this word to the doctrine
before us. What are the wages of sin? Abad, to perish; shamad, to be
destroyed; tsamath, to be cut off. Every figure used concerning the
last two words considered in this present article enforce the meaning. The divorcemcnt of man and wife; the complete loss of the unredeemed
dwelling house; the vanishing of the stream; the extinction of the tree
whose very place could not be found, all alike testify to the truth of
the Scriptures, that the wages of sin is death, and give the lie to the
vain deceitful philosophy which says, "There is no death, what seems so
is transition," which tells us that death is but life in another place.
Oh to believe God! let men call us what they will. It is required in
stewards that a man be found faithful.
We have now considered four of the most important Hebrew words used by
God in connection with the wages of sin, viz., abad, shamad, tsamath
and karath. One or two more words of less frequent usage will complete
our studies in this section, and then we must turn to the Greek words
used in the N.T.
Kalah.D This word is translated by a great many different English
words. We give a few of the most important: " to consume, be consumed,
consume away," 60 times. Other renderings include, " be accomplished
"; " be finished," "cease"; " destroy utterly "; " utter end."
Let us look at the way the word is used, apart from the question of
future punishment. "On the seventh day God ended His work which He had
made" (Gen. ii. 2). Comment is unnecessary here. Totality and
completion are clearly expressed by the context in every passage. "
And He left off talking with him, and God went up from Abraham" (Gen.
xvii. 22). " The famine shall consume the land " (Gen. xli. 30). "The
water was spent in the bottle" (Gen. xxi. 15). "My soul fainteth for
Thy salvation .. .mine eyes fail for Thy Word" (Psa. cxix. 81, 82). " I
will not make a full end with you " (Jer. v. 18; xxx. 11). "The
consumption decreed shall overflow in righteousness" (Isa. x. 22),
"Until the day and night come to an end " (Job xxvi. 10).
The underlying idea of the word kalah may be seen in the fact that kol
is the Hebrew word for " all " and " every." It signifies, as we have
observed, totality and the utter end. It is the word used by the Lord
when He said to Moses, " Let Me alone,that I may consume them"
(Exod. xxxii. 10), or as in Num. xvi. 21, 41, " That I may consume them in a
moment." The Psalmist uses this word when speaking of the ungodly. "
Consume them in wrath, consume them that they may not be "
13). The added words, " that they may not be" amplify the inherent
meaning of the word " consume." Again, in Psa. xxxvii. we read, " But
the wicked shall perish (abad) and the enemies of the Lord shall be as
the fat of lambs; they shall consume (kalah), into smoke shall they
consume away " (kalah). Here we have not only the figure of the utter
consumption of fat by fire, but also the parallel word " perish," which
we have considered together in the first paper of this series.
Perhaps the passage in the A.V. which gives a complete idea of the
nature of the word is Zeph. i. 18, " Neither their silver nor their
gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the Lord's wrath; but
the whole land shall be devoured (akal) by the fire of His jealousy:
for He shall make a speedy riddance of all that dwell in the land."
Evil is not to be forever; God's universe is to be cleansed; He shall
gather out of His kingdom all things that offend; He will make a speedy
riddance of evil. Again we pause to consider yet another word used by
the Lord in relation to the wages of sin, and again the unfailing
testimony is borne by the Scriptures to the fact, that to perish, to
destroy, and to consume, in their primary meanings are everywhere the
words used by God to describe the penalty of sin.
Nathats. This word is translated, " beat down," 3 times; " break
down," 22 times; and once or twice " cast down "; " pull down"; " throw
down "; &c., and " destroy," 5 times. The primary meaning is, " to
break down," " to demolish." It is applied to altars (Exod. xxxiv. 13;
Deut. xii. 3). To houses, towns, cities, walls (Lev. xiv. 45; Judges
viii. 9; ix. 45; 2 Kings x. 27, &c.). In Psa. lii. 5 we find the word
translated "destroy." The words of the context are suggestive,
"destroy .... take away .... root out .... pluck out." The Psalm,
originally written with reference to Doeg the Edomite, has prophetic
reference to the Antichrist, "the man who made not the Lord his
strength" (verse 7). It is interesting to note that the Gematria (the
numerical value) of this sentence is 2,197, or 13 X 13 X 13, the number
of Satan and rebellion. When dealing with the doom of Antichrist we
shall have to remember this passage and the primary meaning of the
Muth.D Let us now examine the word which is translated " death." Scripture declares in both Testaments that the wages of sin is death.
Much has been written to show that death means everything else except
death. The current conception seems to be that death, as a punishment
for sin, is endless life in misery. Presumably if tradition had its
way it would alter the Scriptures, and would declare that " he that
believeth hath everlasting life in happiness, and the wages of sin is
everlasting life in misery." The Bible, however, knows no suchdoctrine.
We have already examined several words and find that the wages of sin
is destruction, perishing, a full end, consumption, riddance, death.
The oft quoted John iii. 16 declares unmistakably that the alternative
to everlasting life is perishing. However, our present studies are
devoted to the consideration of the Hebrew words themselves. How is
the Hebrew word muth rendered in the A.V.? It is translated " to die,"420 times; " be dead," 60 times; " be put to death," 57 times; " put to
death," 19 times; " death," 62 times; " kill," 32 times; " slay," 81
times; and " dead body," " worthy of death," " destroy," " destroyed,"
" death." We have enough in such a number of occurrences to provide
to a demonstration the meaning and usage of the word muth. Let us
examine a few passages.
" And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years,
and he died " (Gen. v. 5). The word is used throughout Genesis to
record the deaths of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, &c. It is used of
the death of animals (Exod. vii. 18; viii. 13; Lev. xi. 39, &c.). It
is this self-same word that is used in Ezek. xviii. 4, " The soul that
sinneth, it shall die." Moses used this word in Deut. iv. 22, " I must
die in this land." The word muth is used to describe a corpse. "Abraham stood up from before his dead " (Gen. xxiii. 3). " Bury
therefore thy dead " (Gen. xxiii. 15). It is precisely the same word "death " in Gen. xxi. 16 as in Ezek. xviii. 32.
Death, physical and inflicted death, was continually presented to the
mind of the Jew under the law. " He that smiteth a man ... shall be
... put to death" (Exod. xxi. 12), so he that smiteth his father,
stealeth, or curseth (Exod. xxi. 15, 16, 17). Murder, adultery,
witchcraft (Num. xxxv. 16; Lev. xx. 10 and xx. 17) were similarly
punished. Nowhere, throughout the whole range of inspiration, is man
ever told to torture, torment, or in any way foreshadow the horrors of
the traditional penalty of sin; the extreme penalty is always death. Thus was it so in the beginning. In Gen. ii. 17 the penalty for
disobedience was, " in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely
die." We are fully aware that this passage has been made to mean
death, spiritual and eternal, which in orthodox teaching comes to mean
life in conscious torment.
What was the penalty threatened in Gen. ii. 17? " Dying thou shalt
die." This is the same idiomatic construction as is translated "freely
eat," viz., "eating thou mayest eat" (Gen. ii. 16). It is of frequent
occurrence in the Old Testament (cf. Gen. xxvi. 28; xxvii. 30;
3, 7, 20), and it is false to seek to make the Hebrew idiom (Gen. ii.
17) speak of a process of " dying"! Adam, who was of the earth, earthy,
who was not a spiritual being as is so often taught (cf. I Cor. xv.
47), was treated by God upon a plane suitable to his nature. His
obedience would have meant a continuance in the state of innocence and
the temporal blessings of Eden, while his disobedience involved
and his descendants in the forfeiture of these blessings. What is true
concerning the first death is true of the second death also. If the
second death means eternal conscious agony, it cannot be justly named
the second death, for it differs in its every character. Into the
second death God will cast Hades (i.e. gravedom), and death, the last
enemy to be destroyed.
The lake of fire is God's great destructor. All things that offend are
gathered out of God's kingdom, not to be perpetuated by constant
miracle, but to be destroyed, root and branch. We hope to prove this
definitely when we have considered the N.T. words. Space will not
allow us to go further in this issue. Muth, death, is the expression
of abad, perish, shamad, destroy, tsamath, cut off, karath, cut off,
and kalah, to make an utter end.
In our next paper we shall have to refer to muth again, as we shall
therein consider the word " hell " in the O.T. Meanwhile, let us notrest in the words of man, but let us see to it that our faith rests in
the "words which the Holy Ghost teacheth." [THE WAGES OF SIN -