The word "orator" occurs twice:
(1) As the King James Version rendering of lachash; only Isaiah 3:3, "the eloquent orator," the King James Version margin "skilful of speech," where the Revised Version (British and American) rightly substitutes "the skillful enchanter." The word lachash is probably a mimetic word meaning "a hiss," "a whisper" and is used in the sense of "incantation" "charm." Hence, nebhon lachash means "skillful in incantation," "expert in magic." See DIVINATION; ENCHANTMENT.
(2) As the rendering of rhetor, the title applied to Tertullus, who appeared as the advocate of the Jewish accusers of Paul before Felix (Acts 24:1). The proceedings, as was generally the case in the provincial Roman courts, would probably be conducted in Latin, and under Roman modes of procedure, in which the parties would not be well versed; hence, the need of a professional advocate. Rhetor is here the equivalent of the older Greek sunegoros, "the prosecuting counsel," as opposed to the sundikos, "the defendant's advocate."
Oration occurs only in Acts 12:21:
"Herod .... made an oration unto them" (edemegorei pros autous). The verb demegoreo, "to speak in an assembly" (from demos, "people," agoreuo, "to harangue"), is often found in classical Greek, generally in a bad sense (Latin concionari); here only in the New Testament.
D. Miall Edwards
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