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Bible Encyclopedias

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

Err; Error

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ûr , er´ẽr :

To err is in the Old Testament the translation of שׁגה , shāghāh , and תּעה , tā‛āh , both of which mean literally,. "to wander," "to go astray." We have shāghāh in 1 Samuel 26:21 , "I have played the fool, and have erred"; Job 19:4 , "Mine error remaineth with myself," i.e. "is my own concern," or, perhaps, "only injures myself"; Psalm 119:118 ; Isaiah 28:7 the King James Version (thrice); tā‛āh , Psalm 95:10 ; Proverbs 14:22 ; Isaiah 35:8 . It means also "to cause to err" (Isaiah 3:12 ; Isaiah 30:28 , "a bridle that causeth to err"; Jeremiah 23:13 , Jeremiah 23:12 ; "Their lies (i.e. the unreal deities, creatures of their own imagination) have caused them to err," Amos 2:4 ).

In the New Testament the word is generally πλανάομαι , planáomai , "to wander" (Mark 12:24 , Mark 12:27 ; Hebrews 3:10 ; James 5:19 ); astochéō , "to miss the mark," "to swerve," occurs twice (1 Timothy 6:21 ; 2 Timothy 2:18 ).

Error in the Old Testament represents various words: sheghāghāh , "mistake," "oversight" (Ecclesiastes 5:6 ; compare Proverbs 20:25 and see INQUIRY ); meshūghāh , with the same meaning, "wandering" (Job 19:4 ; compare Psalm 19:12 ); shal , "rashness," "mistake" (2 Samuel 6:7 , "God smote him there for his error," the Revised Version, margin "rashness"); shālū , Aramaic "mistake" (Daniel 6:4 ); tō‛āh , "injury" (Isaiah 32:6 ).

In the New Testament we have plánē , "wandering" (Romans 1:27 ; James 5:20 ; 1 John 4:6 ; Judges 1:11 , "the error of Balaam"); agnóēma , "ignorance" (Hebrews 9:7 , margin, Greek "ignorances"). For "is deceived" (Proverbs 20:1 ) the Revised Version (British and American) has "erreth," margin "or reeleth"; for "them that are out of the way" (Hebrews 5:2 ), "the ignorant and erring"; for "deceit" (1 Thessalonians 2:3 ), "error."

The English word "error" has the same original meaning as the Hebrew and Greek main words, being derived from erro , "to wander." "To err is human," but there are errors of the heart as well as of the head. The familiar phrase just quoted seems to have its equivalent in the marginal rendering of Genesis 6:3 , "in their going astray they are flesh." Errors through ignorance are in the Bible distinguished from errors of the heart and willful errors (Leviticus 5:18 ; Numbers 15:22 ; Ezekiel 45:20 ).

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Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. Entry for 'Err; Error'. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. 1915.

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