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Dictionaries :: Set

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International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia


Few words in the English language have such a rich variety of meaning and are used in so rich a variety of idiomatic expression as the word "set." A glance at any of the great dictionaries will convince anyone of the truth of this statement. The Standard Dictionary devotes three and a half columns to the word. In its primary meaning it there denotes 22 distinct things, in its secondary meaning 17 more, while 18 distinct phrases are given in which it is used, in some cases again in a variety of meanings. It is indeed a word calculated to drive a foreigner to despair. Some 70 Hebrew and about 30 Greek words in the original tongues of the Holy Scriptures have been rendered by the word "set," in the King James Version and also in the Revised Version (British and American). A careful comparative study of the original and of translations in other tongues will at once indicate that a lack of discrimination is evident on the part of the English translators in the frequent use of the word "set."

Thus in So 5:14, "hands are as rings of gold set with beryl," the Hebrew word is male'," to be filled," "full." Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) translates plenae, the Dutch gevuld, the German voll; Pr 8:27, "when he set a circle," Hebrew chaqaq, "to describe," "decree," Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) vallabat, Dutch beschreef; Ezr 4:10, "set in the city of Samaria," Aramaic yethibh, "to cause to sit down," "to cause to dwell," Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) habitare eas fecit, Dutch doen wonen; Ps 2:6, "Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill," Hebrew nacakh, "to pour out," "to anoint," Dutch gezalfd; Isa 19:2, the King James Version "I will set the Egyptians against the Egyptians," Hebrew cakhakh, "to disturb," "to confuse," Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) concurrere faciam,, Dutch verwarren, German an einander setzen; Re 3:8, "I have, set before thee a door," Greek didomi, "to give," Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) dedi coram te, Dutch gegeven, German gegeben; Ac 19:27, the King James Version "Our craft is in danger to be set at nought," Greek erchomai, "to come," Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) periclitabitur, Dutch in verachting komen; Lu 4:18, "to set at liberty them," Greek apostello, "to send away," Dutch heen te zenden in vrijheid; Ac 13:9, the King James Version "Saul.... set his eyes on him," Greek atenizo, "to stare fixedly," Vulgate: intuens in eum, Dutch de oogen op hem houdende. These are but a few examples chosen at random where our English translators have rendered Hebrew and Greek words by "set," where a more literal translation, in equally good idiomatic language, was possible. The word "set" is the causative of "sit," and indicates primarily a power of self-support, in opposition to the idea of the word "lay."

(1) In its primary meaning the word "set" is used in our English Bible in many senses:

(a) Foundation: So 5:15, "His legs are as pillars of marble set upon."

(b) Direction: Eze 21:16, "whithersoever thy face is set."

(c) Appointed time: Ac 12:21, "upon a set day."

(d) Fixed place: 2Ch 20:17, "Set yourselves, stand ye still, and see"; 2Sa 6:17; Mt 4:5.

(e) Cause to sit: 1Sa 2:8, the King James Version "to set them among princes"; 2Ch 23:20; Ps 68:6.

(f) Appointment: Ezr 7:25, the King James Version "set magistrates and judges"; Ge 41:41; 1Sa 12:13; Ps 2:6; Da 1:11. (g) To lift up: Ge 31:17, "set his sons and his wives upon."

(h) Appointed place: Ge 1:17, "God set them in the firmament."

(i) Cause to stand: Ge 47:7, "Joseph brought in Jacob.... and set him before Pharaoh"; Nu 8:13; 2Ch 29:25.

(j) Sitting: Mt 5:1, the King James Version "when he was set"; Heb 8:1 the King James Version.

(k) Location: Mt 5:14, "a city set on a hill." These by no means exhaust the meaning which the word, in its primary sense, has in our English Bible.

(2) In a secondary or tropical sense it is used with equal frequency, usually with various prepositions. Thus,

(a) To attack: Jud 9:33, the King James Version "and set upon the city."

(b) To imprint: Ge 4:15, the King James Version "The Lord set a mark upon Cain."

(c) To direct to: 1Ki 2:15, "And that all Israel set their faces on me."

(d) To place: 1Ki 20:12, Ben-hadad shouted one word to his allies: "Set," i.e. set the armies in array, the battering-rams and engines of attack in their place.

(e) To incline toward: Eze 40:4, "Set thy heart upon all that I shall show."

(f) To trust in: Ps 62:10, "If riches increase, set not your heart thereon."

(g) To place before: Ps 90:8, "Thou hast set our iniquities before"; Ps 141:3, "Set a watch, O Yahweh, before my mouth."

(h) To go down: of the setting of the sun (Mr 1:32; Lu 4:40).

(i) To be proud: Mal 3:15, the King James Version "They that work wickedness are set up."

(j) To fill in: Ex 35:9, "stones to be set, for the ephod."

(k) To plant: Mr 12:1, "set a hedge about it."

(l) To mock: Lu 23:11, "Herod.... set him at nought."

(m) To honor: 1Sa 18:30, "so that his name was much set by."

(n) To start: Ac 21:2, "We went aboard, and set sail." As may be seen the word is used in an endless variety of meanings.

Written by Henry E. Dosker

Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words
A-1 Verb Strong's Number: g2476 Greek: histemi


"to cause to stand," is translated "to set" in Mat 4:5 (aorist tense in the best texts; some have the present, as in AV); 18:2; 25:33; Mar 9:36; Luk 4:9; 9:47; Jhn 8:3; Act 4:7; 5:27; 6:6; in Act 6:13, "set up;" Act 22:30; in Jud 1:24, RV, "to set" (AV, "to present").
See ABIDE, No. 10.

A-2 Verb Strong's Number: g2525 Greek: kathistemi


lit., "to set down" (kata, "down," and No. 1), "to appoint, constitute," is translated "to set" in Mat 24:45, 47; 25:21, 23, RV (AV, "made"); so Luk 12:42, 44; it is found in some mss. in Hbr 2:7, and translated "set over" (AV).
See APPOINT, No. 2.

A-3 Verb Strong's Number: g5087 Greek: tithemi


"to put, to place," is translated "to set" in Act 1:7, of times and seasons (AV, "put"); Act 13:47; Rev 10:2; "setteth on" (of wine) in Jhn 2:10, RV (AV, "doth set forth"); in the AV of Mar 4:21 (2nd part) and in Luk 8:16 it is rendered "set" (RV, "put"), of a lamp (some texts have No. 6 in both). In Mar 4:30 it is used of "setting" forth by parable the teaching concerning the Kingdom of God, RV, "shall we set (it) forth" (AV, "compare").
See APPOINT, No. 3.

A-4 Verb Strong's Number: g3908 Greek: paratithemi


"to place beside" (para, "beside," and No. 3), "to set forth," of a parable, Mat 13:24, RV (AV, "put forth"); "to set before," of food, Mar 6:41; 8:6 (twice), 7; Luk 9:16; 10:8; 11:6; Act 16:34; 1Cr 10:27.
See ALLEGE, No. 1, PUT, No. 3.

A-5 Verb Strong's Number: g4060 Greek: peritithemi


"to place or put around" (peri, "around," and No. 3), is translated "to set about" (of a hedge) in Mar 12:1.
See BESTOW, No. 5, PUT.

A-6 Verb Strong's Number: g2007 Greek: epitithemi


"to put, set or lay upon," is used of the placing over the head of Christ on the cross "His accusation," Mat 27:37, "set up;" of attacking a person, Act 18:10, "shall set on."
See ADD, No. 1.

A-7 Verb Strong's Number: g4388 Greek: protithemi


"to set before" (pro, "before," and No. 3), is used in the Middle Voice, translated "set forth," of Christ, in Rom 3:25 (RV marg., "purposed").
See PURPOSE, B, No. 3.

A-8 Verb Strong's Number: g1325 Greek: didomi


"to give," is translated "I have set before" in Rev 3:8 (RV marg., "given").

A-9 Verb Strong's Number: g2523 Greek: kathizo


used transitively, signifies "to cause to sit down, set, appoint," translated "to set" in Act 2:30, RV (AV, incorrectly, "to set"); in 1Cr 6:4, of appointing, i.e., obtaining the services of, judges in lawcourts; in Eph 1:20, RV, "made (Him) to sit" (AV, "set").

Note: In Hbr 8:1, kathizo is used intransitively, RV, "sat down" (AV, "is set"); so in Hbr 12:2, RV, "hath sat down" (AV, "is set down"); Rev 3:21, RV, "I... sat down" (AV, "am set down"). So epikathizo in Mat 21:7 (last part), RV, "He sat" [some mss. have the plural in a transitive sense, AV, "they set (Him)]."
See SIT, No. 8.

A-10 Verb Strong's Number: g5021 Greek: tasso


"to arrange, assign, order," is translated "set (under authority)" in Luk 7:8. In 1Cr 16:15, RV, "have set (themselves)," AV, "addicted."
See APPOINT, No. 5.

A-11 Verb Strong's Number: g392 Greek: anatassomai


"to arrange in order, draw up in order" (ana, "up," and the Middle Voice of No. 10), occurs in Luk 1:1, AV, "to set forth in order," RV, "to draw up."
See DRAW, No. 9.

A-12 Verb Strong's Number: g1416 Greek: duno


"to sink into," is used of the "setting" of the sun, Mar 1:32, "did set;" Luk 4:40, "was setting." The sun, moon and stars were conceived of as sinking into the sea when they set.

A-13 Verb Strong's Number: g4862 Greek: sunallasso


"to reconcile" (sun, "together," allasso, "to change or exchange"), is translated "he... would have set (them at one, lit., 'into peace') again" in Act 7:26 (the imperfect tense being conative, expressing an attempt); some mss. have sunelauno, "to drive together, force together."

A-14 Verb Strong's Number: g2605 Greek: katangello


"to declare, proclaim," is translated "set forth" in Act 16:21, RV (AV, "teach"); "set I forth" in Act 17:23, RV (AV, "declare I").
See DECLARE, No. 4.

A-15 Verb Strong's Number: g1758 Greek: enecho


"to hold in," has a secondary significance of "setting oneself against a person," "being urgent against," Mar 6:19; Luk 11:53 (RV, marg.).

A-16 Verb Strong's Number: g4311 Greek: propempo


lit., "to send forward" (pro, "forward," pempo, "to send"), is translated "set forward" in Tts 3:13, RV (AV, "bring") and in 3Jo 1:6, RV (AV, "bring forward"), of practical assistance to servants of God in their journeys.

A-17 Verb Strong's Number: g584 Greek: apodeiknumi


"to show forth, declare," is translated "set forth" in 1Cr 4:9, here, a technical term, used for exhibiting gladiators in an arena, "last of all" referring to the grand finale, to make the most thrilling sport for the spectators (cp. 1Cr 15:32); prophets and others had preceded the apostles in the spectacle; in 2Th 2:4 it is used of the man of sin, who will "set (himself) forth (as God)," AV, "showing." Elsewhere Act 2:22; 25:7.
See APPROVE, PROVE. The word is frequently used in the papyri of the proclamation of the accession of a king or the appointment of an official. Cp. apodeixis, "demonstration," 1Cr 2:4.

A-18 Verb Strong's Number: g1913 Greek: epibibazo


"to place upon," is used of causing persons to mount animals for riding, Luk 10:34; 19:35; Act 23:24.

A-19 Verb Strong's Number: g4741 Greek: sterizo


"to fix, establish," is rendered "He steadfastly set (His face)" in Luk 9:51.

A-20 Verb Strong's Number: g461 Greek: anorthoo


"to set straight, set up" (ana, "up," orthos, "straight"), is used in Act 15:16 in God's promise to "set" up the fallen tabernacle (skene, "tent") of David. The word is used in the papyri of rearing buildings again.

A-21 Verb Strong's Number: g2749 Greek: keimai


"to lie, to be laid" (used as the Passive Voice of tithemi, No. 3), is translated "to be set," e.g., in Mat 5:14 (of a city); Luk 2:34 (of Christ); Jhn 2:6 (of waterpots); 19:29 (of vessel of vinegar); Phl 1:16, RV (Phl 1:17, AV) (of the Apostle Paul); Rev 4:2 (of the throne in heaven).

A-22 Verb Strong's Number: g345 Greek: anakeimai


"to be laid up" (ana "up"), "to recline at a meal," is so used in Jhn 6:11, "(to them) that were set down."
See LEAN, LIE, Note (1), SIT, No. 3.

A-23 Verb Strong's Number: g4295 Greek: prokeimai



(a) "to be set before" (pro, "before," and No. 21), and is so rendered in Hbr 6:18 of the hope of the believer; Hbr 12:1, of the Christian race; Hbr 12:2, of the joy "set" before Christ in the days of His flesh and at His death;

(b) "to be set forth," said of Sodom and Gomorrah, in Jud 1:7. It is used elsewhere in 2Cr 8:12, for which see FIRST, D, Note (2).

A-24 Verb Strong's Number: g4270 Greek: prographo


"to write before," is translated "were set forth (unto this condemnation)" in Jud 1:4, RV (AV, "ordained"); the evil teachers were "designated of old for this judgment" (cp. 2Pe 2:3). For the meaning of this verb in Gal 3:1, RV, "openly set forth," see OPENLY, No. 2, Note.

B-1 Adjective Strong's Number: g5002 Greek: taktos


an adjective (from tasso, A, No. 10), "ordered, fixed, set," is said of an appointed day, in Act 12:21. In the Sept., Job 12:5.


(1) For "to set at liberty" (apoluo and apostello), see LIBERTY.

(2) In Act 21:2, AV, anago, "to set sail" (RV), is translated "set forth;" see LAUNCH.

(3) In Luk 22:55, AV, sunkathizo, "to sit down together" (RV), is translated "were set down together."
See SIT, No. 10.

(4) For Act 7:5, "to set his foot on," see FOOT, A, No. 1, Note.

(5) In Act 13:9, AV, atenizo, "to look fixedly, gaze," is rendered "set his eyes on" (RV, "fastened his eyes on").
See FASTEN, No. 1.

(6) In Mat 27:19, AV, kathemai, "to sit," is rendered "he was set down" (RV, "he was sitting").
See SIT, No. 1.

(7) In Jhn 13:12, (AV, anapipto, "to recline at table," is translated "was set down" (RV, "sat down;" marg., "reclined").

(8) In Mat 27:66 there is no word in the Greek representing the AV "setting;" the RV has "the guard being with them," lit., "with (meta) the guard."

(9) The verb is combined with other words, e.g., AFFECTION, FIRE, MIND, NOUGHT, ORDER, SEAL, UPROAR, VARIANCE.


The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.