The meaning of Smell in the Bible
(From International Standard Bible Encyclopedia)
smel (Hebrew and Aramaic reach, as noun, "savor," "scent"; ruach, as verb, literally, "to breathe," "to inhale," thence "to smell"; osme, the "smell," "savor," euodia, "sweet smell" "fragrance" osphresis "the sense of smell"; verb osphrainomai): And he came near, and kissed him: and he smelled (way-yarach) the smell (reach) of his raiment, and blessed him, and said, See, the smell (reach) of my son is as the smell (reach) of a field which Yahweh hath blessed" (Genesis 27:27). Idols are described as "gods, the work of men's hands, wood and stone, which neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell" (Deuteronomy 4:28). Acceptable sacrifices and pious conduct are called a "sweet smell" or "savor" (Exodus 29:18; Ephesians 5:2; Philippians 4:18) well-pleasing to God. The godless life, which dishonors God, is hateful to Him: "I will not smell the savor of your sweet odors" (Leviticus 26:31). The phrase, "being in bad odor with a person," can be traced to Biblical language: "Ye have made our savor to be abhorred in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of his servants" (Exodus 5:21). Thus "smell" is occasionally equivalent with "quality," "character": "His (Moab's) taste remaineth in him, and his scent is not changed" (Jeremiah 48:11). Character or quality is the most infallible test, the most manifest advertisement of a thing or a person; thus we find the following very instructive passage: "(God) maketh manifest through us the savor (osme) of his knowledge in every place. For we are a sweet savor (euodia) of Christ unto God, in (better: "among") them that are saved, and in (better: "among") them that perish; to the one a savor (osme) from death unto death; to the other a savor (osme) from life unto life" (II Corinthians 2:14-16). See TRIUMPH. In the passage Isaiah 3:24, the King James Version "sweet smell" (besem, "balsam plant") has been changed to "sweet spices" in the Revised Version (British and American).
H. L. E. Luering
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