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Holman Bible Dictionary

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Additional Resources
• Nave's Topical Bible
• International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
Greek - tongue
Greek - other tongue, men of strange tongues, strange tongues
Greek - tongue, tongues
Greek - in the Hebrew tongue
Hebrew - tongue
Hebrew - tongue, tongues
Hebrew - hold your tongue 1 still
Hebrew - Syrian tongue

The organ of speech and then the language spoken (Jeremiah 5:15) and the people or nation speaking (Isaiah 66:18). The tongue was seen to express the true nature since speech was viewed as more than just a verbal phenomenon. It was seen as the expression of a person's true nature (Psalms 64:2-3; Psalms 45:1; Proverbs 10:20; Proverbs 17:20). The wisdom writings of the Old Testament stressed the practical results of the use of the tongue for the individual's life (Proverbs 12:18; Proverbs 18:21; Proverbs 21:6; Proverbs 21:23; Proverbs 25:23; Proverbs 26:28; Proverbs 28:23). Like a bit in a horse's mouth or the rudder of a ship, the tongue could control the direction of a person's life (James 3:3-8). Since the tongue reveals what is in one's heart, its use had ethical consequences whether for good or bad (Psalms 34:13; Psalms 37:30; Psalms 109:2; Psalms 120:2; Psalms 140:2-3; Isaiah 59:3).

The tongue was seen to play a central role in the expression of a person's religious commitment. The tongue could be used to praise God (Psalms 35:28; Psalms 51:14; Psalms 71:24; Romans 14:11; Philippians 2:11). On the other hand, the tongue could cause separation from God (Job 15:4-5; Psalms 39:1; Psalms 78:35-37). The potential for good or bad which is part of human nature is actualized through the tongue (James 3:9-10).

The word tongue is used, of course, in the basic sense of the term to refer to the organ of eating and drinking (Judges 7:5; Isaiah 41:17). Tongue is, also, used figuratively to refer to objects in the material world which resemble the tongue in shape (Isaiah 11:15). See Spiritual Gifts; Tongues, Gift of.

Jeff Cranford

Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.

Bibliography Information
Butler, Trent C. Editor.. "Entry for 'TONGUE'". "Holman Bible Dictionary".
<>. 1991.


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