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Dictionaries :: Order

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


or'-der (‘arakh, "to arrange"; tassein ( diatassein, taxis, tagma)): "Order" in Biblical phrases may indicate

(1) arrangement in rows,

(2) sequence in time,

(3) classification and organization,

(4) likeness or manner,

(5) regulation, direction or command, or

(6) the declaring of a will.

In many passages it is difficult if not impossible to determine from the English text alone in which of these senses the word is used.

1. Arrangement in Rows:

The fundamental idea suggested by the Hebrew, Greek and English words is that of arrangement in rows. Thus "order" is used in the Bible of arranging wood for an altar (Le 1:7; 1Ki 18:33; compare Hebrew Ge 22:9; Isa 30:33); of laying out flax-stalks for drying (Jos 2:6); of preparing offerings (Le 1:8,12; compare Lu 6:5; Jud 6:26); of arranging lamps (Ex 27:21; 39:37; Le 24:3,4; compare Ps 132:17); of placing the shewbread on the table (Ex 40:4,23; Le 6:12; 24:8; 2Ch 13:11); of drawing up the battle array (1Ch 12:38 (Hebrew 39, ‘adhar)); and of arranging weapons in order for battle (Jer 46:3, the American Standard Revised Version "prepare"). As a verb "to order" in the older versions usually has the obsolete sense "to arrange" and not the more usual English meanings, "to demand" or "to direct." Thus: "In the tent of meeting shall Aaron order it" (Le 24:4, the American Standard Revised Version "keep in order"); "Order ye the buckler and shield" (Jer 46:3; compare Ps 119:133; Job 23:4, the American Standard Revised Version "set in order"; Judith 2:16; The Wisdom of Solomon 8:1; 15:1; Ecclesiasticus 2:6). The Hebrew pa‘am (literally, "hoof-beat," "occurrence," "repetition") in the plural conveys the idea of an architectural plan (Eze 41:6). Another word, shalabh, literally, "to join," in connection with the tabernacle, has in some versions been translated as including the idea of orderly arrangement (Ex 26:17). The word "order" standing by itself may mean orderly or proper arrangement (1 Esdras 1:10; The Wisdom of Solomon 7:29; 1 Macc 6:40; Col 2:5). Akin to the idea of arranging things in a row is that of arranging words (Job 33:5; 37:19; Ps 5:3), of recounting things in order (Isa 44:7; Lu 1:1 the King James Version (diatassein); Lu 1:3; Ac 11:4 (kathexes)), of setting forth a legal case (Job 23:4; 13:18; compare Ps 50:21). From the idea of arranging in order for the purpose of comparison the Hebrew ‘arakh acquires the meaning "to compare" (Isa 40:18; Ps 89:7). This is clearly the meaning of ‘en ‘arokh ‘elekha (Ps 40:5 (Hebrew 6)), where "They cannot be set in order unto thee" must be interpreted to mean "There is nothing that can be compared unto thee."

2. Sequence in Time:

As the fundamental meaning of ‘arakh is arrangement in space, that of cadhar is order or sequence in time. In later Hebrew cedher was used in the sense of "program." In Job 10:22 lo' cedharim, absence of regularity, in the description of the uncertain period that follows death probably means "confusion in time." (The Septuagint (pheggos) suggests, in the place of cedharim, a word for "light," possibly tsohorayim.) In the New Testament we find "order" used of time in connection with the resurrection of the dead (1Co 15:23 (tagma)) and of a succession of places visited (Ac 18:23 (kathexes)). The phrase "in order unto" (Ps 119:38) expresses causal sequence and hence, purpose.

3. Classification and Organization:

The idea of classification is present in the Hebrew taqan, translated "set in order," with reference to a collection of proverbs (Ec 12:9). The same stem is used with reference to the arranging of singers before the altar (Hebrew Ecclesiasticus 47:9), The classification of priests according to their service is spoken of as "ordering" (1Ch 24:3,19, Hebrew paqadh). Next to the high priests ranked priests of the second order (mishneh, 2Ki 23:4; compare 25:18 parallel Jer 52:24). The related concept of organization is present where the Hebrew kun (literally, "to establish".) is translated "order" (Isa 9:7 the King James Version, "to establish" the American Standard Revised Version; Ps 119:133; 2Ch 29:35; compare 1 Macc 16:14). A similar use of the term "order" is found in the New Testament in connection with the organization of the affairs of the church (1Co 16:1 (diatassein); Tit 1:5 (epidiorthoo); 1Co 11:34).

4. Likeness or Manner:

"Order," in the sense of likeness or manner, is used in the phrase "after the order of Melchisedek" to translate the Hebrew ‘al dibherath, or rather the archaic form ‘al dibherathi (Ps 110:4), which in other passages is translated "because of" (compare Ec 3:18; 7:14; 8:2). This well-known phrase is rendered in Septuagint kata ten taxin, a translation adopted in Heb 5:6,10; 6:20; 7:11,17, where the passage from Psalm is made the basis of an extended argument, in the course of which "order" is taken in the sense of "likeness" (Heb 7:16).

5. Regulation, Direction, Command:

In the sense of regulation, we find "order" as a translation of mishpaT (which is literally, "the ruling of a shopheT," whether as a judicial decree or legislative act) in connection with the conduct of priests (1Ch 6:32 (Hebrew 17); 2Ch 30:16; compare Lu 1:8; 1 Esdras 1:6), and with reference to the Nazirite regulations in the story of Samson (Jud 13:12, the Revised Version (British and American) "manner"), church services (1Co 14:40) and, in the older English VSS, with reference to other ritual matters (1Ch 15:13; 23:31; 2Ch 8:14, the American Standard Revised Version "ordinance"). The phrase ‘al yadh, literally, "according to the hand of," translated in Ezr 3:10; 1Ch 25:2 b, 3,6 twice in various ways, means "under the direction of," or "under the order of," as translated in the last instance. The modern sense of "command" is suggested here and in several other instances (1 Esdras 8:10; 1 Macc 9:55). He "that ordereth his conversation aright" (sam derekh, Ps 50:23) is probably one who chooses the right path and directs his steps along it. "Who shall order the battle?" (1Ki 20:14) is corrected in the American Standard Revised Version: "Who shall begin the battle?" (compare 2Ch 13:3, Hebrew ‘acar, literally, "to bind," hence, "to join" or "begin"; compare proelium committere).

6. Declaring of Last Will:

The phrase "to set one's house in order" (Isa 38:1 parallel 2Ki 20:1; 2Sa 17:23), used of Hezekiah and Ahithophel, in contemplation of death, means to give final instructions to one's household or to make one's will. The Hebrew tsawah used in this phrase is the stem found in the later Hebrew tsawwa'ah, "a verbal will" (Babha' Bathra' 147a, 151b; BDB). Great moral weight was attached in Biblical times to the charges laid upon a household by a deceased father or remoter ancestor, not only as to the disposition of property but also as to personal conduct. (Compare the case of the Rechabites, where the same Hebrew expression is used, tsiwwah ‘alenu, Jer 35:6.)

Written by Nathan Isaacs


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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