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Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary


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Besides the common usage of this word, in the sense of a reply, it has other significations. Moses, having composed a thanksgiving, after the passage of the Red Sea, Miriam, it is said, answered, "Sing ye to the Lord," &c,—meaning, that Moses, with the men on one side, and Miriam, with the women on the other side, sung the same song, as it were, in two choruses, or divisions; of which one answered the other.

Numbers 21:17 , "Then Israel sung this song, Spring up, O well, answer unto it;" that is, sing responsively, one side (or choir) singing first, and then the other. 1 Samuel 29:5 , "Is not this David of whom they sung one to another in dances, saying, Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands?" They sung this song to his honour in distinct choruses.

This word is taken likewise for, to accuse or to defend any one, judicially. Genesis 30:33 , "My righteousness shall answer for me;" it shall be my advocate before thee. Deuteronomy 31:21 , "The song which thou shalt compose and teach them shall testify (answer) against them as a witness." Isaiah says, "The show of their countenance will testify (answer) against them; their impudence will be like a witness and an accuser. Hosea 5:5 , "The pride of Israel doth testify (answer) to his face."

To answer, is likewise taken in a bad sense; as when it is said that a son answers his father insolently, or a servant his master. Romans 9:20 , "Who art thou that repliest against God?" that is, to contest or debate with him. John 18:22 , "Answerest thou the high priest so?" St. Paul declares that he "had in himself the answer (or sentence) of death;" 2 Corinthians 1:9 ; like a man who has had notice of condemnation, he had a certain assurance of dying.

To answer is also used in Scripture for the commencement of a discourse, when no reply to any question or objection is intended. This mode of speaking is often used by the evangelists, "And Jesus answered and said." It is a Hebrew idiom.

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Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Answer'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. 1831-2.

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