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Synonyms of the New Testament :: Richard C. Trench

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lxv. λυπέομαι, πενθέω, θρηνέω, κόπτω.

In all these words there is the sense of grief, or the utterance of grief; but the sense of grief in different degrees of intensity, the utterance of it in different forms of manifestation.

Λυπεῖσθαι (Matt. 14:9; Ephes. 4:30; 1 Pet. 1:6) is not a special but a most general word, embracing the most various forms of grief, being opposed to χαίρειν (Aristotle, Rhet. i. 2; Sophocles, Ajax. 555); as λύπη to χαρά (John 16:20; Xenophon, Hell. vii. 1. 22); or to ἠδονή (Plato, Legg. 733). This λύπη, unlike the grief which the three following words express, a man may so entertain in the deep of his heart, that there shall be no outward manifestation of it, unless he himself be pleased to reveal it (Rom. 9:2).

Not so the πενθεῖν, which is stronger, being not merely ‘dolere’ or ‘angi,’ but ‘lugere,’ and like this last, properly and primarily (Cicero, Tusc. i. 13; iv. 8: ‘luctus, aegritudo ex ejus, qui carus fuerit, interitu acerbo’) to lament for the dead; πενθεῖν νέκυν (Homer, Il. xix. 225); τοὺς ἀπολωλότας (Xenophon, Hell. ii. 2, 3); then any other passionate lamenting (Sophocles, Oed. Rex. 1296; Gen. 37:34); πένθος being in fact a form of πάθος (see Plutarch, Cons. ad Apoll. 22); to grieve with a grief which so takes possession of the whole being that it cannot be hid; cf. Spanheim (Dub. Evang. 81): ‘πενθεῖν enim apud Hellenistas respondit verbis בכת κλαίειν, θρηεῖν, et הֵילִיל ὀλολύζειν, adeoque non tantum denotat luctum conceptum intus, sed et expressum foris.’ According to Chrysostom (in loco) the πενθοῦντες of Matt. 5:4 are οἱ μετ᾽ ἐπιτάσεως λυπουμένοι, those who so grieve that their grief manifests itself externally. Thus we find πενθεῖν often joined with κλαίειν (2 Sam. 19:1; Mark 16:10; Jam. 4:9; Rev. 18:15); so πενθῶν καὶ σκυθρωπάζων, Ps. 34:14. Gregory of Nyssa (Suicer, Thes. s. v. πένθος) gives it more generally, πένθος ἐστὶ σκυθρωπὴ διάθεσις τῆς ψυχῆς, ἐπὶ στερήσει τινὸς τῶν καταθυμίων συνισταμένη: but he was not distinguishing synonyms, and not therefore careful to draw out finer distinctions.

Θρηνεῖν, joined with ὀδύρεσθαι (Plutarch, Quom. Virt. Prof. 5), with κατοικτείρειν (Cons. ad Apoll. 11), is to bewail, to make a θρῆνος, a ‘nenia’ or dirge over the dead, which may be mere wailing or lamentation (θρῆνος καὶ κλαυθμός, Matt. 2:18), breaking out in unstudied words, the Irish wake is such a θρῆνος, or it may take the more elaborate form of a poem. That beautiful lamentation which David composed over Saul and Jonathan is introduced in the Septuagint with these words, ἐθρήνησε Δαβὶδ τὸν θρῆνον τοῦτον κ.τ.λ. (2 Sam. 1:17), and the sublime dirge over Tyre is called a θρῆνος (Ezek. 26:17; cf. Rev. 18:11; 2 Chron. 35:25; Amos 8:10).

We have finally to deal with κόπτειν (Matt. 24:30; Luke 23:27; Rev. 1:7). This, being first to strike, is then that act which most commonly went along with the θρηνεῖν, to strike the bosom, or beat the breast, as an outward sign of inward grief (Nah. 2:7; Luke 18:13); so κοπετός (Acts 8:2) is θρῆνος μετὰ ψοφοῦ χειρῶν (Hesychius), and, as is the case with πενθεῖν, oftenest in token of grief for the dead (Gen. 23:2; 2 Kin. 3:31). It is the Latin ‘plangere’ (‘laniataque pectora plangens:’ Ovid, Metam. vi. 248; cf. Sophocles, Ajax, 615–617), which is connected with ‘plaga’ and πλήσσω. Plutarch (Cons. ad Ux. 4) joins ὀλοφύρσεις and κοπετοί (cf. Fab. Max. 17: κοπετοὶ γυναικεῖοι) as two of the more violent manifestations cf grief, condemning both as faulty in their excess.

[The following Strong's numbers apply to this section:G2354,G2875,G3076,G3996.]

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