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The meaning of Dead in the Bible
(From International Standard Bible Encyclopedia)

ded (muth; nekros): Used in several senses: (1) as a substantive, denoting the body deprived of life, as when Abraham speaks of burying his dead (Gen. 23); (2) as a collective noun including all those that have passed away from life (as Revelation 20:12). In several passages dead in this sense is used in contrast to the quick or living (as Numbers 16:48). This collective mode of expression is used when resurrection is described as "rising from the dead"; (3) as an adjective, coupled with body, carcass or man, as Deuteronomy 14:8 the King James Version; (4) most frequently it is used as a complement of the verb "to be," referring to the condition of being deceased or the period of death, e.g. II Samuel 12:19; Mark 5:35; (5) in the sense of being liable to death it occurs in Genesis 20:3; Exodus 12:33; II Samuel 16:9; (6) as an intensive adjective it is used in the phrase "dead sleep," to mean profound sleep simulating death (Psalms 76:6); (7) figuratively "dead" is used to express the spiritual condition of those who are unable to attain to the life of faith. They are dead in trespasses, as in Ephesians 2:1, or conversely, those who by the New Birth are delivered from sin, are said to be dead to the Law (as Colossians 2:20, etc.). A faith which does not show its life in the practical virtues of Christianity is called dead (James 2:17); (8) in Romans 4:19; Hebrews 11:12, "dead" signifies the senile condition of loss of vigor and virility.

The passage in Job (Job 26:5), wherein in the King James Version "dead things" seem to mean things that never had life, is more accurately translated in the Revised Version (British and American) as "they that are deceased," i.e. the shades of the dead.

There are few references to the physical accompaniments of the act of dying. Deborah has a poetical account of the death of Sisera (Judges 5:24 ff.), and in Ecc. 12, where the failure of the bodily faculties in old age culminates in death, it is pictorially compared to the breaking of a lamp extinguishing the flame ("golden" being probably used of "oil," as it is in Zechariah 4:12), and the loosing of the silver chebhel or chain by which the lamp is suspended in the tent of the Arabic

The dead body defiled those who touched it (Leviticus 11:31) and therefore sepulture took place speedily, as in the case of Lazarus (John 11:17-39) and Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:6-10). This practice is still followed by the fellahin.

The uselessness of the dead is the subject of proverb (Ecclesiastes 9:4) and the phrase "dead dog" is used as a contemptuous epithet as of a person utterly worthless (I Samuel 24:14; II Samuel 9:8; II Samuel 16:9).

Alex. Macalister


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