dum (alam, 'illem, literally, "tied in the tongue"; kophos):

Used either as expressing the physical condition of speechlessness, generally associated with deafness, or figuratively as meaning the silence produced by the weight of God's judgments (Psalms 39:2-9; Daniel 10:15) or the oppression of external calamity (Psalms 38:13). As an adjective it is used to characterize inefficient teachers destitute of spirituality ("dumb dogs," Isaiah 56:10). The speechlessness of Saul's companions (Acts 9:7) was due to fright; that of the man without the wedding garment was because he had no excuse to give (Matthew 22:12). Idols are called mute, because helpless and voiceless (Habakkuk 2:18,19; 1 Corinthians 12:2). The dumbness of the sheep before the shearer is a token of submission (Isaiah 53:7; Acts 8:32).

Temporary dumbness was inflicted as a sign upon Ezekiel (3:26; 24:27; 33:22) and as a punishment for unbelief upon Zacharias (Luke 1:22). There are several cases recorded of our Lord's healing the dumb (Matthew 15:30; Mark 7:37; Luke 11:14, etc.). Dumbness is often associated with imbecility and was therefore regarded as due to demoniac possession (Matthew 9:32; 12:22). The evangelists therefore describe the healing of these as effected by the casting out of demons.

This is especially noted in the case of the epileptic boy (Mark 9:17). The deaf man with the impediment in his speech (Mark 7:32) is said to have been cured by loosening the string of his tongue. This does not necessarily mean that he was tongue- tied, which is a condition causing lisping, not stammering; he was probably one of those deaf persons who produce babbling, incoherent and meaningless sounds. I saw in the asylum in Jerusalem a child born blind and deaf, who though dumb, produced inarticulate noises.

In an old 14th-century psalter "dumb" is used as a verb in Psalms 39:

"I doumbed and meked and was ful stille."

Alexander Macalister

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