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Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary


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This word occurs only once in our version of the Bible: "I will cut off the remnant of Baal, and the name of the Chemarims (Chemarim) with the priests," Zephaniah 1:4 ; but it frequently occurs in the Hebrew, and is generally translated "priests of the idols," or "priests clothed in black," because chamar signifies blackness. By this word the best commentators understand the priests of false gods, and in particular the worshippers of fire, because they were, it is said, dressed in black. Le Clerc, however, declares against this last opinion. Our translators of the Bible would seem sometimes to understand by this word the idols or objects of worship, rather than their priests. This is also the opinion of Le Clerc. Calmet observes that camar in Arabic signifies the moon, and that Isis is the same deity. "Among the priests of Isis," says Calmet, "were those called melanephori, that is, wearers of black; but it is uncertain whether this name was given them by reason of their dressing wholly in black, or because they wore a black shining veil in the processions of this goddess."

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

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