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Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible


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NAIL. 1 . Among the ancient Arabs it was the custom for a widow to allow her nails to grow during her term of mourning. To pare them was a formal indication that this period was at an end. From Deuteronomy 21:12 and 2 Samuel 19:24 (LXX [Note: Septuagint.] ) it may be inferred that such was also the custom among the Hebrews. The former passage, however, refers only to the case of a foreign captive whom a Hebrew might take to wife after a month’s seclusion, during which the care of the person was neglected in token of mourning for the captive’s condition. The latter passage in its better Gr. form (see Cent. Bible, in loc .) tells us that Mephibosheth showed his sympathy with David by, inter alia , omitting to trim his ‘toe-nails and his finger-nails’ during the latter’s absence from Jerusalem.

2 . The Heb. word most frequently rendered ‘nail’ is properly a tent-peg, or, as Judges 4:21 RV [Note: Revised Version.] , tent-pin . This is also the better rendering in Zechariah 10:4 , where it is synonymous with ‘corner-stone,’ both terms signifying the princes or leading men of the State as its supports. The figure of Isaiah 22:23 ; Isaiah 22:25 , on the other hand, is derived from the custom of driving a nail into the house-wall upon which to hang ( Isaiah 22:22 ) domestic utensils or the like.

A. R. S. Kennedy.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Nail'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. 1909.

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