In the Old Testament used in every case, except 2 Samuel 16:23 , to denote the most holy place in the temple ( 1 Kings 6:5 1 Kings 6:19-23 ; 8:6 ). In 2 Samuel 16:23 it means the Word of God. A man inquired "at the oracle of God" by means of the Urim and Thummim in the breastplate on the high priest's ephod. In the New Testament it is used only in the plural, and always denotes the Word of God ( Romans 3:2 ; Hebrews 5:12 , etc.). The Scriptures are called "living oracles" (Compare Hebrews 4:12 ) because of their quickening power ( Acts 7:38 ).
The inner santuary; "Holy of Holies".
A Psalm of David. Unto thee will I cry, O LORD my rock; be not silent to me: lest, if thou be silent to me, I become like them that go down into the pit. Hear the voice of my supplications, when I cry unto thee, when I lift up my hands toward thy holy ORACLE. ( Psalm 28:1-2 )
A declaration; something uttered.
Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing. For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the ORACLES of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. ( Hebrews 5:11-12 )
(1) A divine utterance delivered to man, usually in answer to a request for guidance. So in 2 Samuel 16:23 for dabhar ("word," as in the Revised Version margin). The use in this passage seems to indicate that at an early period oracular utterances were sought from Yahweh by the Israelites, but the practice certainly fell into disuse at the rise of prophecy, and there are no illustrations of the means employed (1 Samuel 14:18,19,36-42, etc., belong rather to DIVINATION (which see)). In. the Revised Version margin of such passages as Isaiah 13:1, "oracle" is used in the titles of certain special prophecies as a substitute for BURDEN (which see) (massa'), with considerable advantage (especially in Lamentations 2:14).
(2) In heathen temples "oracle" was used for the chamber in which the utterances were delivered (naturally a most sacred part of the structure). This usage, coupled with a mistake in Hebrew philology (connecting debhir, "hinder part," with dibber, "speak"), caused English Versions of the Bible to give the title "oracle" to the Most Holy Place of the Temple, in 1 Kings 6:5, etc., following the example of Aquila, Symmachus and the Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) But the title is very unfortunate, as the Most Holy Place had nothing to do with the delivery of oracles, and the Revised Version (British and American) should have corrected (compare Psalms 28:2 margin).
(3) In the New Testament English Versions of the Bible employs "oracle" as the translation of logion, "saying," in four places. In all, divine utterances are meant, specialized in Acts 7:38 as the Mosaic Law ("living oracles" equals "commandments enforced by the living God"), in Romans 3:2 as the Old Testament in general, and in Hebrews 5:12 as the revelations of Christianity (Hebrews 6:2,3). In 1 Peter 4:11 the meaning is debated, but probably the command is addressed to those favored by a supernatural "gift of speech." Such men must keep their own personality in the background, adding nothing of their own to the inspired message as it comes to them.
Burton Scott Easton
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