(1) qasqeseth "fish-scales";
(2) meghinnah, maghen, "scales of the crocodile";
(3) lepis, with verb lepizo "scale away" (Tobit 3:17; 11:13)):
(1) The first Hebrew word qasqeseth means the imbricated scales of fish, which together with the dorsal fin were a distinguishing mark of all fish allowed as food to the Israelite (Leviticus 11:9; Deuteronomy 14:9). In the figurative sense the word is used of a coat of mail (1 Samuel 17:5,38).
(2) Meghinnah from maghen, literally, "a buckler" or "small shield" (2 Chronicles 23:9; Jeremiah 46:3), is used in the description of the crocodile (see LEVIATHAN) for the horny scales or scutes imbedded in the skin, not imbricated upon it (Job 41:15 (Hebrew verse 7)).
(3) The Greek lepis, which in classical language has a much wider range of meaning than the above Hebrew words ("rind," "husk," "shell," "fish-scale," "scale of snake," "flake of metal and of snow," etc.), is found in the New Testament description of Paul's recovery from temporary blindness, "And straightway there fell from his eyes as it were scales, and he received his sight" (Acts 9:18).
There is nothing in the words of the sacred text which compels us to think of literal scales. (In Tobit, however, a literal flaking-off of foreign substance is meant.) We have here rather a description of the sensation which terminated the three days' period of blindness which the apostle suffered after his meeting with the risen Lord on the road to Damascus. The apostle himself does not use this expression in his own graphic description of the same experience:
"In that very hour I looked upon him" (Acts 22:13). The phrase has, however, come into English, for we speak of "scales falling from one's eyes" when we mean a sudden illumination or remembrance or a dissipation of harassing doubt.
H. L. E. Luering
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