nek (tsawwar, tsawwa'r, tsawwaron, tsawwa'rah, Aramaic tsawwar (Daniel 5:7,16,29), `oreph, miphreqeth (1 Samuel 4:18); nostos, "back" (Baruch 2:33); occasionally the words garon (Isaiah 3:16; Ezekiel 16:11), and gargeroth, plural of gargarah, literally, "throat" (Proverbs 1:9; 3:3,12; 6:21), are translated "neck"):
The neck is compared with a tower for beauty (Song of Solomon 4:4; 7:4) and is decorated with necklaces and chains (Proverbs 1:9; 3:3,12; 6:21, Hebrew gargeroth; Ezekiel 16:11, Hebrew garon, "throat"; Daniel 5:7,16,29, Hebrew tsawwar). It is also the part of the body where the yoke, emblem of labor and hardship, dependence and subjection, is borne (Deuteronomy 28:48; Jeremiah 27:8,11,12; 28:14; Acts 15:10). "To shake off the yoke," "to break the yoke," or "to take it off" is expressive of the regaining of independence and liberty, either by one's own endeavors or through help from outside (Genesis 27:40; Isaiah 10:27; Jeremiah 28:11; 30:8). Certain animals which were not allowed as food (like the firstborn which were not redeemed) were to be killed by having their necks (`oreph) broken (Exodus 13:13; 34:20); the turtle-doves and young pigeons, which were sacrificed as sin offerings or as burnt offerings, had their heads wrung or pinched off from their necks (Leviticus 5:8). In 1 Samuel 4:18 the Hebrew word miphreqeth signifies a fracture of the upper part of the spinal column caused by a fall.
It was a military custom of antiquity for the conqueror to place his foot upon the vanquished. This custom, frequently represented in sculpture on many an Egyptian temple wall, is referred to in Joshua 10:24; Baruch 4:25 and probably in Romans 16:20 and Psalms 110:1. Paul praises the devotion of Aquila and Priscilla, "who for my life laid down their own necks" (Romans 16:4).
To "fall on the neck" of a person is a very usual mode of salutation in the East (Genesis 33:4; 45:14; 46:29; Tobit 11:9,13; Luke 15:20; Acts 20:37). In moments of great emotion such salutation is apt to end in weeping on each other's neck.
The Lord Jesus speaks of certain persons for whom it were better to have had a millstone put around the neck and to have been drowned in the sea. The meaning is that even the most disgraceful death is still preferable to a life of evil influence upon even the little ones of God's household (Matthew 18:6; Mark 9:42; Luke 17:2).
To "make the neck stiff," to "harden the neck" indicates obstinacy often mingled with rebellion (Exodus 32:9; 33:3,5; 34:9; 2 Chronicles 30:8; 36:13; Nehemiah 9:16,17,29; Psalms 75:5 (the Revised Version margin "insolently with a haughty neck"); Proverbs 29:1; Jeremiah 7:26). Compare sklerotracholes, "stiffnecked" (Acts 7:51). Similarly Isaiah (48:4) speaks of the neck of the obstinate sinner as resembling an iron sinew.
H. L. E. Luering
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