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Bitter; Bitterness

BITTER; BITTERNESS

bit'-er, bit'-er-nes (mar, or marah = "bitter" (literally or figuratively); also (noun) "bitterness" or (adverb) "bitterly"; "angry," "chafed," "discontented," "heavy" (Genesis 27:34; Exodus 15:23; Numbers 5:18,19,23,24,27; Esther 4:1; Job 3:20; Psalms 64:3; Proverbs 5:4; 27:7; Ecclesiastes 7:26; Isaiah 5:20; Jeremiah 2:19; 4:18; Ezekiel 27:31; Amos 8:10; Habakkuk 1:6); the derivatives marar, meror, and merorah, used with the same significance according to the context, are found in Exodus 1:14; 12:8; Numbers 9:11; Job 13:26; Isaiah 24:9. The derivati ves meri and meriri occur in Deuteronomy 32:24; Job 23:2 (margin); and tamrur, is found in Jeremiah 6:26; 31:15. In the New Testament the verb pikraino = "to embitter"; the adjective pikros = "bitter," and the noun pikria, "bitterness," supply the same ideas in Colossians 3:19; James 3:11,14; Revelation 8:11; 10:9,10):

It will be noted that the word is employed with three principal spheres of application:

(1) the physical sense of taste;

(2) a figurative meaning in the objective sense of cruel, biting words; intense misery resulting from forsaking God, from a life of sin and impurity; the misery of servitude; the misfortunes of bereavement;

(3) more subjectively, bitter and bitterness describe emotions of sympathy;' the sorrow of childlessness and of penitence, of disappointment; the feeling of misery and wretchedness, giving rise to the expression "bitter tears";

(4) the ethical sense, characterizing untruth and immorality as the bitter thing in opposition to the sweetness of truth and the gospel;

(5) Numbers 5:18 the Revised Version (British and American) speaks of "the water of bitterness that causeth the curse." Here it is employed as a technical term.

Frank E. Hirsch


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Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Entry for 'BITTER; BITTERNESS'". "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". 1915.