The inability to speak. In the Old Testament muteness is traced to God (Exodus 4:11). God made Ezekiel mute (Ezekiel 3:26) in response to Israel's failure to listen to his message. Later He restored Ezekiel's speech (Ezekiel 24:27;
Ezekiel 33:22) as a sign of the people's receptiveness to hear. Daniel experienced muteness in response to the appearance of a heavenly messenger (Daniel 10:15). The psalmist considered muteness an appropriate punishment for liars (Psalms 31:18). By extension, to be mute means to hold one's peace (Psalms 39:2,Psalms 39:9;
Acts 8:32), especially in the face of injustice. In
Proverbs 31:8 the mute are the symbol of all those who suffer without a voice.
Isaiah 56:10 pictures Israel's leaders as mute dogs who cannot bark a warning. In
Isaiah 35:6 the singing of those once mute accompanies return from the Exile. In
Habakkuk 2:18-19 idols are mocked as mutes (also
1 Corinthians 12:2).
In the New Testament muteness is either not explained (Mark 7:32,Mark 7:37) or else attributed to demons (Matthew 9:32;
Mark 9:17,Mark 9:25;
Luke 11:14). An exception is Zechariah's muteness (Luke 1:20,Luke 1:22) which served as a sign of the truthfulness of Gabriel's message as well as a punishment for Zechariah's unbelief.
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.
Butler, Trent C. Editor.. "Entry for 'MUTENESS'". "Holman Bible Dictionary".