The Latin peculium means "private property," so that "peculiar" properly equals "pertaining to the individual." In modern English the word has usually degenerated into a half-colloquial form for "extraordinary," but in Biblical English it is a thoroughly dignified term for "esp. one's own"; compare the "peculiar treasure" of the king in Ecclesiastes 2:8 (the King James Version). Hence, "peculiar people" (the King James Version Deuteronomy 14:2, etc.) means a people especially possessed by God and particularly prized by Him. The word in the Old Testament (the King James Version Exodus 19:5; Deuteronomy 14:2; 26:18; Psalms 135:4; Ecclesiastes 2:8) invariably represents ceghullah, "property," an obscure word which Septuagint usually rendered by the equally obscure periousios (apparently meaning "superabundant"), which in turn is quoted in Titus 2:14. In Malachi 3:17, however, Septuagint has peripoiesis, quoted in 1 Peter 2:9. the English Revised Version in the New Testament substituted "own possession" in the two occurrences, but in the Old Testament kept "peculiar" and even extended its use (Deuteronomy 7:6; Malachi 3:17) to cover every occurrence of ceghullah except in 1 Chronicles 29:3 ("treasure"). the American Standard Revised Version, on the contrary, has dropped "peculiar" altogether, using "treasure" in 1 Chronicles 29:3; Ecclesiastes 2:8, and "own possession" elsewhere. the King James Version also has "peculiar commandments" (idios, "particular," the Revised Version (British and American) "several") in The Wisdom of Solomon 19:6, and the Revised Version (British and American) has "peculiar" where the King James Version has "special" in The Wisdom of Solomon 3:14 for eklekte, "chosen out."
Burton Scott Easton
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