What's In A Word?

This volume consists of word studies based on the original Hebrew and Greek texts of the Bible. An introduction and 53 chapters explore various aspects of the believer's life and walk. There is no duplication between this and previous volumes in this servies.

by Walter Jerry Clark
soft cover, 196 pages, 6" x 9"


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Although slothfulness is rarely mentioned by modern men, our forebears considered it to be a serious sin. An English proverb states that "idleness is the parent of all vice" (Tan, Encyclopedia of Seven Thousand Seven Hundred Illustrations, BMH). Warnings against slothfulness are found in the Bible, particularly in the Old Testament. Two Hebrew words describe this sin.

'Atsal is a verb that originally meant to lean idly against something. It was used of a person who leaned idly on his staff or against a wall while others worked: thus it came to refer to being lazy or indolent.

As a verb, the word occurs only once in the Old Testament, in Judges 18:9. It was used by the five spies who encouraged their fellow Danites to "be not slothful to go" take over foreign territory they had their sights on.

The adjectival form of the Hebrew word occurs frequently in the book of Proverbs. It is translated both as "sluggard" (6:6) and "slothful" (15:19). The reference is basically to a lazy person who shirks work or responsibility that is properly his to perform or assume. The lazy person is unlike the ant, which works industriously even though it has no leader to command it to work (6:6- 8; cf. 30:25).

The biblical view of slothfulness is far more than mere laziness, however. The sluggard is contrasted with the "righteous" (Prov. 15:19; 21:25-26). Slothfulness was thus considered to have a moral basis. The root cause of slothfulness was moral laxity, a refusal to do what was right. The slothful man chose the easy way in matters of both labor and morals.

The reason for such slothfulness seems to have been conceit (Prov. 26:16). The slothful person thought hard work was foolish and that for him there was an easier and better way to make a living. Crime was frequently the next step.

All too often slothfulness was its own punishment. The slothful man's life was usually hard (Prov. 15:19) and often resulted in poverty. His desires were strong, but the means to obtain them consisted of hard work that he was unwilling to perform (21:25). His excuses for getting out of work were many and often ludicrous - perhaps there was a lion in the streets (26:13)!



Going Up

Keys of the Kingdom

New Testament Greek