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Study Resources :: Dictionaries :: Fatherless

Dictionaries :: Fatherless

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International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia


fa'-ther-les (yathom; orphanos): The fatherless are frequently mentioned in the Old Testament, generally in association with the widow and the stranger, as typical instances of the unprotected and necessitous, who are, specially subject to oppression, and also to God's special protection. Great philanthropic regard is bestowed on this class throughout. In early legislation there is a special clause to guard them against affliction (Ex 22:22-24). They have a still more prominent place in the Deuteronomic legislation, which gives instructions that a charitable fund be formed out of the tithe, once every three years, for the relief of the destitute (De 14:28,29; 26:12-14), and that gleanings be left in the cornfield, the olive garden, and the vineyard for the benefit of this class (De 24:19-22; compare Le 19:9 f; 23:22, where, however, the "fatherless" are not specially mentioned). The Deuteronomist declares that God is on their side (De 10:18), and strongly condemns those who would oppress them (De 24:17; 27:19). The prophets and psalmists are equally emphatic in pleading for mercy and justice to the fatherless, and in declaring that God is their special guardian (Isa 1:17; Jer 7:6; 22:3; Ho 14:3; Zec 7:10; Ps 10:14; 68:5; 82:3; 146:9; compare Pr 23:10). Oppressing the fatherless is frequently mentioned as a typical act of cruelty and injustice (compare Job 6:27; 22:9; 24:3,1; 29:12 f; 31:16,17,21; Ps 94:6; Isa 1:23; 10:2; Jer 5:28; Eze 22:7; Mal 3:5). Here we have instances of the prophetic passion for righteousness and compassion for the helpless, inspired by a profound sense of the value of human life. Passages in the Apocrypha reflect the same spirit (2 Esdras 2:20; Ecclesiasticus 4:10).

In the New Testament the word "fatherless" occurs but once, where James declares, in the spirit of the Old Testament prophets, that true religious ritual consists in visitation of the fatherless and widows and in moral purity (Jas 1:27). Here the word for "fatherless" is orphanos ("bereft," "orphaned"), which is the Septuagint translation of the Old Testament yathom. In the New Testament the Greek word is found besides only in Joh 14:18, where it means destitute of a teacher or guide (compare La 5:3).

Written by D. Miall Edwards

Torrey's New Topical Textbook

Fatherless: Find Mercy in God

Hsa 14:3

Fatherless: God Will

Be a father of

Psa 68:5

Be a helper of

Psa 10:14

Hear the cry of

Exd 22:23

Execute the judgment of

Deu 10:18; Psa 10:18

Punish those who oppress

Exd 22:24; Isa 10:1-3; Mal 3:5

Punish those who judge not

Jer 5:28,29

Fatherless: Visit in Affliction

Jam 1:27

Fatherless: Let Them Share in Our Blessings

Deu 14:29

Fatherless: Defend

Psa 82:3; Isa 1:17

Fatherless: Wrong Not, in Judgment

Deu 24:17

Fatherless: Defraud Not

Pro 23:10

Fatherless: Afflict Not

Exd 22:22

Fatherless: Oppress Not

Zec 7:10

Fatherless: Do No Violence To

Jer 22:3

Fatherless: Blessedness of Taking Care Of

Deu 14:29; Job 29:12,13; Jer 7:6,7

Fatherless: The Wicked


Isa 10:2


Job 6:27


Eze 22:7


Job 24:3


Psa 94:6

Judge not for

Isa 1:23; Jer 5:28

Fatherless: A Curse on Those Who Oppress

Deu 27:19

Fatherless: Promises with Respect To

Jer 49:11

Fatherless: A Type of Zion in Affliction

Lam 5:3

Fatherless: Exemplified


Gen 11:27,28

Daughters of Zelophehad

Num 27:1-5


Jdg 9:16-21


2Sa 9:3


2Ki 11:1-12


Est 2:7

Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words
1 Strong's Number: g3737 Greek: orphanos


properly, "an orphan," is rendered "fatherless" in Jam 1:27; "desolate" in Jhn 14:18, for AV, "comfortless."


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