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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature


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(Hebrews Kemarim´, כְּמָרַיס, idol-priests). This word occurs only once in our version of the Bible ("chemarims," Zephaniah 1:4; Sept. confounds with ἰερεῖς following); but it is met with in the Hebrew in 2 Kings 23:5 (Sept. Χομαρίμ ); Hosea 10:5 (Sept. omits), where it is rendered "idolatrous priests," and priests;" and in both of these passages the margin has "chemarim." According to Gesenius (Thes Hebrews p. 693), the corresponding Syriac word signifies "a priest in general; but this, as well as other Syriac words relating to divine worship, is restricted by the Hebrews to idol-worship. As to the etymology, the singular form כֹּמֶר, ko´ mer, is properly blackness, sadness, and concretely, one who goes about in black, in mourning, hence an ascetic, a priest." First (Heb. Lex. s.v.) suggests a derivation from כָּמִר = אָמִר, in the sense of worship, and remarks that the title chemarim, although proper to the peculiar priests of Baal, was also applied to other idolatrous priests. Zephaniah 1:4, the chemarim are coupled with the priests, and the passage may signify, "I will destroy the chemarim, together with the priests of the tribe of Levi who have joined in the worship of idols." The priests who officiated in the service of the golden calves at Dan and Bethel were called chemarim (see the other passages referred to). Even to this day the Jews retain the word, and apply it in derision to Christian ministers, on account of their black robes. (See BAAL).

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Chemarim'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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