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Vessel

VESSEL

ves'-el:

Is used freely in English Versions of the Bible to translate keli, the Aramaic ma'n, and skeuos, words all meaning "an implement or utensil" of any kind, when the context shows that a hollow utensil is meant. In 1 Samuel 21:5, however, the translation of the plural of keli by "vessels" is dubious. English Versions of the Bible evidently intended something in the nature of provision wallets, and the "holiness" of such objects finds partial parallels in Numbers 19:15; Leviticus 11:32-34, etc. But in 1 Samuel 21:8, in the immediate context of the verse above, keli certainly means "weapons," and this translation is quite intelligible in 21:5 also. For war among the Hebrews was a holy function, calling for extreme ceremonial purity (Deuteronomy 23:9-14). See the commentaries. and especially RS2, 455-56. In addition, "vessel" appears in Isaiah 30:14 for nebhel, "jar"; in Matthew 13:48 for aggos, "vessels"; and in Sirach 21:14; Matthew 25:4 for aggeion, a diminutive form of aggos. A different use is that of The Wisdom of Solomon 14:1, where "vessel" represents ploion, "a boat," while The Wisdom of Solomon 14:5,6 the King James Version has "weak vessel" for schedia, "raft" (so the Revised Version (British and American)). Vessels of all sorts and kinds and for all sorts of uses were so familiar as to make them natural illustrations for different sorts of human beings (Hosea 8:8; Isaiah 22:24; Jeremiah 22:28, etc.; see POTTER), and through Acts 9:15 the word "vessel" has passed into Christian theology as signifying simply a human being. But the figure of such "vessels" as (passively) filled with different contents is not Biblical. In 1 Thessalonians 4:4 "vessel" may be taken as a figure for either the man's own body or for his wife. Between these possibilities the commentaries are almost equally divided.

Burton Scott Easton


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