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ATS Bible Dictionary

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LETTERS

Luke 23:38 The Hebrews have certain acrostic poems which begin with the letters of the alphabet, ranged in order. The most considerable of these is Psalms 119:1-176, which contains twentytwo stanzas of eight verses each, all acrostic; that is, the first eight begin with Aleph, the next eight with Beth, and so on. Psalms 25:1-22 34:1-22, have but twenty-two verses each, beginning with the twentytwo letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Others, as Psalms 111:1-112:10, have one-half of the verse beginning with one letter, and the other half with the next. Thus, Blessed is the man who feareth the Lord,

Who delighteth greatly in his commandments.

The first half of the verse begins in the Hebrew with Aleph; the second with Beth. Psalms 37:1-40 145:21 are acrostic. Lamentations 1:1-5:22 are also in acrostic verse, as well as Proverbs 31:8-31. In John 7:15, the word "letters" means learning; the Jews said of Christ, Whence this manís qualifications to teach us the Scriptures, since he has not learned of the doctors of the law?

Paul speaks of "the letter" in distinction from "the spirit," Romans 2:27,29 7:6 2 Corinthians 3:6; contrasting the mere word of the law and its outward observance, with its spiritual meaning, and cordial obedience to it through the Spirit of Christ.

Epistolary correspondence seems to have been little practiced among the ancient Hebrews. Some few letters are mentioned in the Old Testament, 2 Samuel 11:14 Ezra 4:8. They were conveyed to their destination by friends or travelers, Jeremiah 29:3; or by royal couriers, 2 Chronicles 30:6 Esther 8:10. The letter was usually in the form of a roll, the last fold being pasted down. They were sealed, 1 Kings 21:8, and sometimes wrapped in an envelope, or in a bag of costly materials and highly ornamented. To send an open letter was expressive of contempt, Nehemiah 6:5. In the New Testament we have numerous examples of letters, from the pens of the apostles.


Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from American Tract Society Bible Dictionary published in 1859. Public Domain, copy freely.

Bibliography Information
Rand, W. W. "Entry for 'LETTERS'". "American Tract Society Bible Dictionary".
<http://classic.studylight.org/dic/ats/view.cgi?number=T1234>. 1859.

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