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Dictionaries :: Famine

Below are articles from the following dictionary:
International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia

Famine:

fam'-in (ra‘abh; limos):

1. Natural Causes

2. Famines Mentioned

3. Divine Relations

4. Figurative Uses

The common Old Testament word for "famine" is ra‘abh; re‘abhon also occurs (Ge 42:19,33; Ps 37:19), and kaphan (Job 5:22; 30:3), all meaning "hunger" and "famine"; in the New Testament the word is limos, meaning primarily "failure," "want of food."




1. Natural Causes:

In early times, especially in lands dependent on their own productions, famines were not infrequent. They were generally caused by local irregularities of the rainfall, by destructive hail storms (Ex 9:23,11,32), by ravages of insects (Ex 10:15; Joe 1:4) and by enemies (De 28:51); in a city a famine might be caused by a siege (2Ki 6:25); pestilence often followed in its wake, and the suffering was great.

2. Famines Mentioned:

Famines are recorded in the time of Abraham (Ge 12:10, etc.), of Isaac (Ge 26:1), of Jacob, when Joseph was in Egypt-seven years of famine even in Egypt after seven of plenty (Ge 41:54), which also affected Canaan (Ge 42:1), and, indeed, "was over all the face of the earth" (Ge 41:56); in the time of the Judges (Ru 1:1), of David, for three years (2Sa 21:1), of Ahab and Elijah (1Ki 17:1; 18:2; Ecclesiasticus 48:2,3), of Elisha (2Ki 4:38), during the siege of Samaria (2Ki 6:25), the seven years foretold by Elisha (2Ki 8:1), in the reign of Zedekiah in Jerusalem when besieged by Nebuchadnezzar (2Ki 25:3; Jer 52:6; compare 14:1), its great severity is referred to (La 5:10; Baruch 2:25); a "dearth" is also mentioned after the return from Captivity (Ne 5:3); when the city was besieged by Antiochus Eupator (1 Macc 6:54), after the death of Judas (1 Macc 9:24), when Jerusalem was besieged by Simon (1 Macc 13:49), in the time of Claudius (Ac 11:28, in his reign there were frequent famines, one of which in 45 AD severely affected Palestine; Josephus, Ant, XX, v); Christ predicted "famines.... in divers places" as characterizing the end of the age (Mt 24:7; Mr 13:8; Lu 21:11); in the siege of Jerusalem by Titus a terrible famine raged, the consequences of which to the people have never been surpassed.

3. Divine Relations:

Famines are frequently said to be sent as punishments sometimes threatened as such (Le 26:19 f; De 28:49-51; 2Ki 8:1; Ps 105:16; Isa 14:30; 51:19; Jer 14:12,15; 18:21, etc.; Eze 5:16, etc.; Am 8:11; 2 Esdras 15:5,49; 16:19; Tobit 4:13; Ecclesiasticus 39:29; 40:9).

The righteous or godly should be preserved by God in time of famine (Job 5:20, "In famine he will redeem thee from death"; Ps 33:19, "to keep them alive in famine"; 37:19, "In the days of famine they shall be satisfied"); this was a special mark of the Divine favor and power.

4. Figurative Uses:

A famine is used by Amos to indicate the absence of Divine communications as a punishment that should come on the people, a "famine.... of hearing the words of Yahweh" (8:11; compare 1Sa 3:1; 28:6; 2Ch 15:3; Eze 7:26; Mic 3:6); by Zephaniah of the destruction of heathen deities (2:11).

The Revised Version (British and American) has "dearth" for "famine" (Job 5:22); "famine" for "dearth" (Ge 41:54; 2Ch 6:28; Ac 7:11; 11:28); for "hunger" (Jer 38:9; Eze 34:29; Re 6:8); "famines" for "famines and pestilences" (Mt 24:7), "famines and troubles" (Mr 13:8), revised texts.

Written by W. L. Walker

CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

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.

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