Hebrew – Testimonies


 

ēḏāh [and] ‘ēḏût

 

The second name we note for God’s Word is testimonies (or “testimony”). The Hebrew is ‘ēdāh (H5713; or ‘ēḏûṯ, H5715), another feminine noun originally meaning a “testimony, witness, or even a warning sign.” Of its twenty-five appearances, fourteen are in Psalms 119 (‘ēḏût appears sixty times, with nine of those in Psalms 119). We should also interject here that all eight of the synonyms we are examining appear in the first eleven verses of that wondrous psalm, which is devoted to praising the virtues, merits, and sufficiency of the Word of God and demonstrates the psalmist’s total commitment to it.

 

This word, therefore, refers to “testifying to a fact or event.” It first appears, for example, in Gen_21:30, where Abraham’s gift of lambs to Abimelech bore witness to Abraham’s statement concerning the ownership of the well at Beersheba. Even more graphic is Gen_31:52, where Jacob used a pile of stones to bear witness to the agreement between him and Laban concerning land boundaries.

 

It eventually came to be used, then, for a solemn testimony of the will of God, a sober and serious expression of God’s standards for human behavior. In other words, God’s testimonies are not suggestions or optional proposals, rather His absolute standards. It is tremendously significant, in fact, that the stone tablets containing the Ten Commandments are called God’s “testimony,” ‘ēḏût (Exo_25:16; Exo_31:18; Exo_32:15), God’s “solemn divine charge or duty.” It was also frequently used of the tabernacle (“tabernacle of testimony”, Exo_38:21; Num_1:50; Num_1:53) and even the Ark of the Covenant (“ark of the testimony,” Exo_25:22; Exo_26:33-34; Exo_30:6; Exo_30:26). Further, it is also used at times to refer to the entire law (February 13–16) of God (Psa_19:7; Psa_119:14; Psa_119:31; Psa_119:36; Psa_119:88; Psa_119:99; Psa_119:111; Psa_119:129; Psa_119:144; Psa_119:157).

 

The definition of right behavior, therefore, is not “up for grabs,” as relativism maintains in our day. It is rather a marked-out standard from God. This standard is also what we should be proclaiming without apology to the world, just as David did “before kings” (Psa_119:46); as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did before the king of Babylon (Dan_3:1-16); as Peter did before the religious leaders (Acts 4); as Stephen did before the council (Act_6:15 to Act_7:54); and as Paul did before Felix (Acts 24), Festus (Acts 25), and Agrippa (Acts 26).

 

Scriptures for Study: What do the verses above in Psalms 19, 119 say about the testimonies of God and our response to them?

 

 

 

 

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