One of the more poignant titles given to believers in Scripture is: 'The redeemed of the Lord'. The phrase as given occurs on three occasions. On one occasion (Ps 107:2) the charge laid is that 'the redeemed of the Lord' should say so. In Isaiah 51:11 the same group is identified as those that will have everlasting joy. Isaiah states later (Is 62:12) that it is these people that will be described as the 'Holy People'.
One might reasonably argue that the three references given all apply, at least in their primary application, to the Jews. Both Isaiah references are careful to use geography to show that it is the Lord's earthly people that are in view. Isaiah fifty one names the redeemed as heading to Zion and Isaiah sixty two states the city is not forsaken.
Nonetheless we find the same redemption motif permeates the New Testament too. Rom 3:24 states that redemption is the method by which we received justification. Rom 8:23 states that our bodies will be redeemed. Ephesians 1:7 states we have redemption I the blood of Christ although Ephesians 1:14 states that the indwelling Holy Spirit is an earnest of a redemption still pending. Hebrews 9:12 then states that eternal redemption was obtained through the blood of Christ.
Therefore given the fact that we are 'The redeemed of the Lord' and the monition to say so, it probably behooves us to understand exactly what the statement means. What does 'redeem' really mean?
Of course one can look up the word 'redeem' in a dictionary. Using dictionary.com I found a list of nine separate but related meanings. It could be to buy or pay off, to buy back, to recover, to exchange, to convert into specie, to discharge or fulfill, to make up or make amends, to obtain the release of something from captivity or to deliver from sin. The problem is that the dictionary does not tell us which particular meaning is meant in any given situation; rather we have to guess based upon context which meaning was meant by the translator.
For those wishing to understand what God actually meant the problem is even more severe. The English text we read is a translation of a word from an underlying Hebrew or Greek text. Each of those Hebrew or Greek words may themselves have had half a dozen different meanings and it is highly probable that only some of them overlap with the nine meanings of the English word redeem. For this reason some of the original language words which are translated as redeem may also be translated as other English words on other occasions. Put very simply there is not a one to one correlation between English words and their 'equivalent' in the Biblical language.
The cleanest solution to this problem is simply to read the Bible in the original languages. However for many of us the time, ability and commitment do not exist to make this a reality. I, for one, am not and am unlikely to ever be a scholar in either language. But there is an intermediate position between reading in English and the original languages which this paper aims to explore. Essentially the goal is to exploit a selection of computerized and paper based tools in order to analyze the underlying original text.
The above stated I still believe that the most powerful tool we have for understanding Scripture is Scripture itself. Therefore in addition to 'trawling the lexicons' it is my aim to study the words in the context in which they appear. In particular I often favor the so-called 'rule of first mention' which states that the first usage of a word defines its meaning.
The first step is to find all of words in the original language which are rendered 'Redeem' or one of its derivatives. Thus one must find all of the verses in which Redeem, Redeems, Redeemed or Redemption appear. I did this by using e-Sword to search for
Redeem* OR Redemption
This found one hundred and thirty eight separate verses. I then looked at the first verse found (Gen 48:16) and noted the Strong's number for the Hebrew word rendered 'redeemed' (H1350). Now I added that particular Strong's number to the EXCLUDE list on the search screen. Thus I was now looking for:
Redeem* OR Redemption AND NOT H1350
This found eighty verses; this suggests that there are fifty eight verses where H1350 is rendered 'Redeem'. I now looked at the top verse of the new search and iterated until all of the Hebrew Greek word combinations had been found. The table of results is as follows:
|Strong's Number||Verses Prior To Exclusion||Verses After Exclusion||Verses containing Strong's number and 'redeem'.||Percentage of Occurrences|
It is immediately apparent from the above that two Hebrew words dominate the definition of 'Redeem'; at least insofar as the frequency of a term is significant. A corollary of this is that the word is actually far more common in the Old Testament than in the new.
For the purposes of analysis I really wish to study the words in familial groups. That is to say that if one word is really just the noun derived from the other verb; or if two words are derived from the same root then I wish to study them at the same time.
If I were capable of spotting and removing the declensions myself then it would probably be easy to do this by inspection; however not having that ability I am forced to use the Strong's dictionary to achieve the same effect. Thus I look up each of the above Strong's numbers and read from the dictionary which other words they are derived from (if any). The results are as follows:
|Strong's Number||Derived From|
|G3085||G3084 (from G3083 (from G3089))|
|G629||G575 and G3083(from G3089)|
|G1805||G1537 and G59(from G58)|
Based upon the above there are five Hebrew families of words: H1350 & H1353, H6299, H6304 & H6306, H7069 and H6561. There are then two Greek families of words: G3085 & G629 & G3084, G1805 & G59. The next step is to take each of these families in turn and examine in depth the renderings and meanings of each.
The first and most common word in the original language which is rendered 'redeem' is gâ'al (H1350). As such it is an excellent start-point to begin understanding the meaning of the word. First however I wish to discover exactly how the word is rendered and how often.
Generally the scope of the translation of a Hebrew word can be ascertained from the King James Concordance. However, there are a number of complexities here. Firstly gâ'al is often rendered by more than one word. For example upon its first appearance (Gen 48:16) it is rendered 'which redeemed'. Secondly gâ'al sometimes occurs with another word and it is the combination of those two words which are rendered. For example in Leviticus 25:26 it is the pair H3808 H1350 which is rendered 'none to redeem'.
Additionally one must consider that a single Strong's number can actually refer to a number of different morphological forms of the underlying word. It would be a shame to generalize to 'gâ'al can sometimes be translated X' if the fact was that 'the Niphal form of gâ'al is always translated X'.
For this reason my method is to work through the eighty four verses in which occurs and for each one discover the exact translation, any additional words combined in the translation and the morphological form of the word used. In the table that follows there is an entry for every unique combination of the foregoing that appears.
|Which redeemed||Qal Participle Poel||Gen 48:16|
|And I will redeem||Qal Preterite||Exo 6:6|
|Thou hast redeemed||Qal Preterite||Exo 15:13 Ps 74:2 Lam 3:58|
|To redeem||Qal Participle Poel||Lev 25:25a|
|It, then shall he redeem||H1350 (H853)||Qal Preterite||Lev 25:25b|
|None to redeem||H3808 H1350||Qal Participle Poel||Lev 25:26|
|Redeemed||Niphal Future||Lev 25:30,54 27:27|
|Purchase||Qal Future||Lev 25:33|
|May redeem||Qal Future||Lev 25:48, 49a, 49b|
|He may redeem himself||Niphal Preterite||Lev 25:49c|
|He will at all redeem||H1350 H1350||Qal Infinitive, Qal Future||Lev 27:13|
|It will redeem||H1350 (H853)||Qal Future||Lev 27:15|
|Will in any wise redeem||H1350 H1350||Qal Infinitive, Qal Future||Lev 27:19|
|Redeem||H1350 (H853)||Qal Future||Lev 27:20a|
|Be redeemed||Niphal Future||Lev 27:20b,33|
|Or redeemed||Niphal Future||Lev 27:28|
|Will at all redeem||H1350 H1350||Qal Infinitive, Qal Future||Lev 27:31|
|Kinsman||Qal Participle Poel||Num 5:8 Rth 3:12b, 4:1|
|From the avenger||H1350||Qal Participle Poel||Num 35:12 Jos 20:3|
|The revenger of blood||H1350 H1818||Qal Participle Poel||Num 35:19,21,24,25,27|
|The avenger of blood||H1350 H1818||Qal Participle Poel||Deu 19:6,12 Jos 20:5,9|
|Of our next kinsman||H1350||Qal Participle Poel||Rth 2:20|
|A near kinsman||Qal Participle Poel||Rth 3:9,12a|
|He will perform unto thee the part of a kinsman||Qal Future||Rth 3:13a|
|Let him do the kinsman�s part||Qal Future||Rth 3:13b|
|Do the part of a kinsman||Qal Infinitive||Rth 3:13c|
|Do the part of a kinsman||Qal Preterite||Rth 3:13|
|Unto the kinsman||Qal Participle Poel||Rth 4:3|
|Thou wilt redeem||Qal Future||Rth 4:4a,c|
|Redeem||Qal Imperative||Rth 4:4b,6c Ps 69:18|
|To redeem||Qal Infinitive||Rth 4:4d|
|Will redeem||Qal Future||Rth 4:4e|
|And the kinsman||Qal Participle Poel||Rth 4:6a|
|Redeem||Qal Infinitive||Rth 4:6b,d|
|Therefore the kinsman||Qal Participle Poel||Rth 4:8|
|Without a kinsman||Qal Participle Poel||Rth 4:14|
|Suffer the revengers of Blood||H1350 H1818||Qal Participle Poel||2Sa 14:11|
|Neither of his kinsfolks||Qal Participle Poel||1Ki 16:11|
|Stain||Qal Future||Job 3:5|
|My redeemer||Qal Participle Poel||Job 19:25|
|And my redeemer||Qal Participle Poel||Ps 19:14|
|He shall redeem||Qal Future||Ps 72:14|
|Redeemed||Qal Preterite||Ps 77:15 Isa 63:9|
|Their redeemer||Qal Participle Poel||Ps 78:35 Pro 23:11 Jer 50:34|
|Who redeemeth||Qal Participle Poel||Ps 103:4|
|And redeemed||Qal Future||Ps 106:10|
|Let the redeemed||Qal Participle Paul||Ps 107:2a|
|He hath redeemed||Qal Preterite||Ps 107:2b Isa 52:9|
|And deliver||Qal Imperative||Ps 119:154|
|But the redeemed||Qal Participle Paul||Isa 35:9|
|And thy redeemer||Qal Participle Poel||Isa 41:14, 54:5|
|I have redeemed||Qal Preterite||Isa 43:1, 44:22|
|Your redeemer||Qal Participle Poel||Isa 43:14|
|And his redeemer||Qal Participle Poel||Isa 44:6|
|Hath redeemed||Qal Preterite||Isa 44:23, 48:20|
|Thy redeemer||Qal Participle Poel||Isa 44:24, 48:17, 54:8|
|Our redeemer||Qal Participle Poel||Isa 47:4 Isa 63:16|
|The redeemer||Qal Participle Poel||Isa 49:7|
|And thy redeemer||Qal Participle Poel||Isa 49:26, 60:16|
|For the ransomed||Qal Participle Paul||Isa 51:10|
|And ye shall be redeemed||Niphal Future||Isa 52:3|
|And the redeemer||Qal Participle Poel||Isa 59:20|
|The redeemed||Qal Participle Paul||Isa 62:12|
|Of my redeemed||Qal Participle Paul||Isa 63:4|
|And ransomed||Qal Preterite||Jer 31:11|
|I will redeem||Qal Future||Hos 13:14|
|Shall redeem||Qal Future||Mic 4:10|
The basic or simplest form of a root is generally the Qal and thus it is a logical starting point to investigate the meaning of a word. Unfortunately the definitions given within Strong's and Brown, Driver and Briggs (BDB) give very little information that you cannot get directly by reading the Biblical text. Both state the word means 'redeem': Strong's states it is by the Oriental law of kinship whilst BDB add that it can be by something (such as payment) or from something (such as death).
Fortunately the Semantic Hebrew Dictionary gives a rather fuller explanation which I shall quote in full:
'to deliver an individual or group of people, with which one has (or wants to have) a special relationship, from under the power of someone else or from difficult circumstances; ► this usually implies that the one who performed the act of deliverance has the right to claim the ones he delivered for himself;'
For me at least this definition nicely takes the concept out of the parochial and familial circumstance and provides the abstract principle through which it is quite possible to see how this circumstance might exist between God and man.
The preterite form of this verb expresses an action that is complete. Commonly that would suggest a past tense or pluperfect although in Hebrew it can be used of the future (almost hyperbolically) to show confidence that a future event will occur. The renderings we see are thus: Thou hast redeemed(3), redeemed(2), he hath redeemed(2), I have redeemed(2), hath redeemed(2), and I will redeem(1), and ransomed(1) and 'do the part of a kinsman'(1).
The latter of these is in Ruth 3:13 and it suggests that the translator rather got carried away with explaining the story that was before him. As the verse contains four occurrences of gâ'al it is worth considering in full:
Rth 3:13 Tarry H3885 this night,H3915 and it shall beH1961 in the morning,H1242 that ifH518 he will perform unto thee the part of a kinsman,H1350 well;H2896 let him do the kinsman's part:H1350 but ifH518 he willH2654 notH3808 do the part of a kinsmanH1350 to thee, then will IH595 do the part of a kinsmanH1350 to thee, as the LORDH3068 liveth:H2416 lie downH7901 untilH5704 the morning.H1242
The first two occurrences are in the future tense; as can be seen both are translated with a significant number of words. The briefer renderings are: may redeem(3), purchase(1), thou wilt redeem(1), will redeem(1), stain(1), he shall redeem(1), and redeemed(1), I will redeem(1) and shall redeem(1). When followed by 'êth the additional renderings It will redeem(1) and redeem(1) appear.
Much as in English the future is showing an event still future which may or may not occur. If anything the uncertainty of the future is underscored by the decision not to use the perfect in the future sense. The indecision can be further exacerbated by preceding the Qal Future form of the verb with the Qal Infinitive: this occurs three time all of the in Leviticus 27. The renderings produced are: 'He will at all redeem', 'Will in any wise redeem' and 'will at all redeem'.
The Qal Infinitive can occur on its own to describe the action 'to redeem' independently of subject or object. This happens four times in scripture all in the book of Ruth. Once is in Ruth 3:13 where it is rendered 'do the part of a kinsman' and other times it is rendered: redeem(2) and 'to redeem'(1).
The Qal Imperative of gâ'al also occurs four times. Three times it is rendered 'redeem' and once 'and deliver'. On all occasions it is an instruction to someone to redeem something. However the majority of the occurrences of gâ'al are not in traditional verbal form but are in the form of a participle: either active (Poel) or passive (Pual). In this form the verb is acting as a noun to describe the one performing the action (Poel) or the one to whom the action is performed (Pual).
For the Pual form we see: 'But the redeemed', 'For the ransomed', 'The redeemed', and 'of my redeemed' each once. The Poel form yields: Kinsman(3), 'their redeemer'(3), 'they redeemer'(3), 'our redeemer'(2), 'a near kinsman'(2), 'from the avenger(2), 'and the redeemer'(2), 'and thy redeemer'(2), 'Neither of his kinsfolks'(1), 'which redeemed'(1), 'the redeemer'(1), 'to redeem'(1), 'unto the kinsman'(1), 'of our next kinsman'(1), 'and the kinsman'(1), 'therefore the kinsman'(1), 'without a kinsman'(1), 'my redeemer'(1), 'and my redeemer'(1), 'who redeemeth'(1), 'your redeemer'(1), 'and his redeemer'(1), 'and the redeemer'(1).
Generally then this is looking at the one performing the redeeming action. The odd translation is 'to redeem' in the expression 'and if any of his kin come to redeem'. In this case the Qal Participle Poel is acting as a relative pronoun and verbal description describing actions of the preceding noun (kinsman).
The 'from the avenger' rendering may also seem strange until you investigate the ten occurrences of H1350 H1818 rendered: 'The revenger of blood'(5), 'The avenger of blood'(4) and 'suffer the revengers of blood'(1). The concept is really defined in Numbers thirty five. In the same manner that a near kin could redeem the property of an individual the near kin could exact revenge if a person had been slain.
The Niphal form differs from the Qal in that it is passive rather than active. Thus it would mean 'to be redeemed' rather than 'to redeem'. This is clearly seen in the three different renderings of gâ'al in the Niphal future tense: redeemed(3), be redeemed(2), 'or redeemed'(1) and 'And ye shall be redeemed'. It can also be reflexive (to redeem oneself). This occurs only once: in the Niphal Preterite in Leviticus 25:49 - 'He may redeem himself'.
Ge'ûllâh is the feminine passive participle of gâ'al (H1350) and means the right of redemption. Put another way if gâ'al refers to the act of redemption then ge'ûllâh refers to the ability, right to or cost of performing that action.
The word is relatively infrequent; an analysis of its use is given here:
|the price of his redemption||2||Lev 25:51, Lev 25:52|
|a redemption||1||Lev 25:24|
|concerning redeeming||1||Rut 4:7|
|he may be redeemed again||1||Lev 25:48|
|is thine, and the redemption||1||Jer 32:8|
|may he redeem||1||Lev 25:29|
|of redemption||1||Jer 32:7|
|of thy kindred||1||Eze 11:15|
|then he may redeem||1||Lev 25:29|
|they may be redeemed||1||Lev 25:31|
|thou my right||1||Rut 4:6|
Even without the benefit of the lexicographers the list above shows that the first usage and definining passage (Lev 25:24-32) agrees as to the meaning of this word. In the first usage (Lev 25:24) the Jews are told that if land is sold then they have to 'grant a redemption'; that is they have to allow it to be bought back. The remainder of the chapter then discusses the conditions of that 'buy back' agreement.
The 'odd' rendering is Ezekiel 11:15 'of thy kindred'; an analysis of the whole verse shows that the translators may have missed a subtlety of the original.
Eze 11:15 SonH1121 of man,H120 thy brethren,H251 even thy brethren,H251 the menH376 of thy kindred,H1353 and allH3605 the houseH1004 of IsraelH3478 wholly,H3605 are they unto whomH834 the inhabitantsH3427 of JerusalemH3389 have said,H559 Get you farH7368 fromH4480 H5921 the LORD:H3068 unto us is thisH1931 landH776 givenH5414 in possession.H4181
Notice the context is that the inhabitants of Jerusalem were ejecting a group of people so that they (those left) could take over the land. Therefore in the list of people ejected it was not so much 'of thy kindred' in a blood-sense that was the criteria - they were interested in removing those that had first claim to reclaim the land that had been vacated!
Pâdâh presents a rather more swash-buckling aspect of redemption from that which we have seen to date. Whilst gâ'al views redemption as an act of law and commerce pâdâh rather emphasizes an escape from peril. The tone is set clearly by the first occurrence:
Exo 13:13 And everyH3605 firstlingH6363 of an assH2543 thou shalt redeemH6299 with a lamb;H7716 and ifH518 thou wilt notH3808 redeemH6299 it, then thou shalt break his neck:H6202 and allH3605 the firstbornH1060 of manH120 among thy childrenH1121 shalt thou redeem.H6299
You can redeem the firstborn of an ass with a lamb; if you don't then the ass gets it's neck broken! The next occurrence focuses upon the redemption of the first-born males (Exo 13:15), the following upon saving a woman from being sold into sexual slavery (Exo 21:8).
Strong tells us that the word is a primitive root literally meaning to sever from which we get the idea of 'to release'. BDB suggests the meaning is to ransom, redeem, rescue or deliver. The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (TWOT) states that the word occurs in Assyrian meaning 'to spare' and in Ugaritic meaning 'to ransom'. Looking at the translation of each occurrence gives us:
|Phrase||Tense or Joined Word||Count||Where Found|
her to himself then shall he let her be redeemed
|at all||Hophal Infinitive||1||Le 19:20|
|shall be redeemed||Niphal Imperfect||2||Le 27:29, Isa 1:27|
|Redeemed||Niphal Perfect||1||Le 19:20|
|Deliver||Qal Imperative||1||Ps 119:134|
|and redeem||Qal Imperative||1||Ps 44:26|
|it deliver||Qal Imperative||1||Ps 69:18|
|Redeem||Qal Imperative||1||Ps 26:11|
|Redeem||Qal Imperative H853||1||Ps 25:22|
|Redeem||Qal Imperfect||4||Ex 13:13, Nu 18:15, Nu 18:17, Ps 49:7|
|shalt thou redeem||Qal Imperfect||3||Ex 13:13, Nu 18:15, Nu 18:16|
|thou shalt redeem||Qal Imperfect||3||Ex 13:13, Ex 34:20, Ex 34:20|
|Redeemed||Qal Imperfect||2||De 15:15, De 24:18|
|I redeem||Qal Imperfect||1||Ex 13:15|
|I will ransom||Qal Imperfect||1||Ho 13:14|
|and redeemed||Qal Imperfect||1||De 7:8|
|have redeemed||Qal Imperfect||1||Ho 7:13|
|or Redeem||Qal Imperfect||1||Job 6:23|
|thou redeem||Qal Imperfect||1||Ex 34:20|
|will redeem||Qal Imperfect||1||Ps 49:15|
|Rescued||Qal Imperfect H853||1||1Sa 14:45|
|shall redeem||Qal Imperfect H853||1||Ps 130:8|
|to redeem||Qal Infinitive||2||2Sa 7:23, 1Ch 17:21|
|by any means||Qal Infinitive||1||Ps 49:7|
|shalt thou surely||Qal Infinitive||1||Nu 18:15|
|and redeemed||Qal Participle Active||1||De 13:5|
|Redeemeth||Qal Participle Active||1||Ps 34:22|
|And the ransomed||Qal Participle Passive||1||Isa 35:10|
|And those that are to be redeemed||Qal Participle Passive||1||Nu 18:16|
|Therefore the redeemed||Qal Participle Passive||1||Isa 51:11|
|thou hast redeemed||Qal Perfect||6||De 9:26, De 21:8, 1Ch 17:21, Ne 1:10, Ps 31:5, Ps 71:23|
|He hath delivered||Qal Perfect||1||Ps 55:18|
|He will deliver||Qal Perfect||1||Job 33:28|
|I have redeemed||Qal Perfect||1||Zec 10:8|
|and I will redeem||Qal Perfect||1||Jer 15:21|
|and redeemed||Qal Perfect||1||Mic 6:4|
|he delivered||Qal Perfect||1||Ps 78:42|
|he shall redeem||Qal Perfect||1||Job 5:20|
|then he shall redeem||Qal Perfect||1||Le 27:27|
|thou redeemedst||Qal Perfect||1||2Sa 7:23|
|hath redeemed||Qal Perfect H853||3||2Sa 4:9, 1Ki 1:29, Jer 31:11|
|Redeemed||Qal Perfect H853||1||Isa 29:22|
Looking first at the Qal perfect (or preterite) form we see that the basic meaning of the word is 'redeem'; occurring on sixteen occasions in this form. There is however a side meaning of 'deliver' which occurs on three occasions. The perfect expresses the complete action and is thus most commonly past tense ('thou hast redeemed') although again there are instances such as Jeremiah 15:21 where it is used to express certainty of an event yet future.
The future or imperfect is the most commonly occurring form of pâdâh; it is also the first to occur: in Exodus 13:13. Generally it refers to redemption yet future: 'redeem'(4) 'thou shalt redeem'(4) or 'shalt thou redeem'(4). It is interesting to note though that on four occasions (Deu 7:8, 15:15, 24:18, Hos 7:18) it is used of an event that has already occurred yet is used in a context of the ongoing effect that that deliverance should have had.
Unlike gâ'al, pâdâh does not have a common active participle denoting the redeemer: on both of the occasions that the active participle occurs it is as a 'genuine' participle referring to the act of redemption rather than as a noun form.
The passive participle of pâdâh is equally weak numerically although rather more significant from a theological standpoint. The first occurrence in Numbers 18:16 gives a nice definition of it 'and those that are to be redeemed'. The second occurrence gives a rather more famous instance: 'and the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with songs' (Isa 35:10) a thought which is re-iterated in the third occurrence in Isaiah 51:11.
There are five occurrences of pâdâh outside of the Qal form in a total of four verses; it is probably most profitable simply to examine the four verses in question.
Here we have the hophal infinitive followed immediately by the niphal preterite. The hophal infinitive is extremely rare occurring only fourteen times in the Bible and I was thus not able to get much good information upon it. However we do know that the Hophal is the passive of the hiphil and that the hiphil is the causative of the qal. Thus the hophal expresses 'having had your redemption caused'. The niphal is then the passive of the qal and expresses 'to have been redeemed'. Given the niphal is perfect and the hophal is infinitive I suggest that what we see here is that 'at no point in time had this girl had someone have her redemption caused'. My clumsy grammar elegantly expresses the helplessness of the girl herself!
Leviticus 27:29 and Isaiah 1:27 both illustrate the Niphal Imperfect. The first refers to the fact that nothing devoted to God by man may be redeemed; the second that Zion will be redeemed. The earliest of the other forms is Exodus 21:8 and is the Hiphil Perfect. The translation is rather wordy: 'her to himself then shall he let her be redeemed' however I believe the meaning is rather simple and somewhat related to ge'ûllâh. A foreign girl had been captured and turned into a concubine; her master no longer required her services and the law demanded that he now had to allow redemption to occur. It should be noted he was not required to release her: redemption still had a price.
Pidyôm is the masculine noun derived from pâdâh; it is a rare term and refers to the price paid for the redemption.
First usage underscores the fiscal meaning of this word:
Here the English is ambiguous and possibly even misleading. It suggests that the act of redemption upon a soul is precious; this may well be true but it is not what the Psalmist is stating. He is stating that the price of redemption is too high for a man to pay.
The feminine noun derived from pâdâh is pedûth. It refers to the redemptive event itself and is rendered as 'redemption' on two of the four occasions the word occurs (Ps 111:9,130:7) where the redemption is seen as being sent or carried. In first occurrence of the word the redemption is being placed. It is rendered 'division' although I still believe that the 'redemptive' meaning applies:
A plague was to befall the land of Egypt but the Jews were to be delivered from it; escape from peril still appears as the clear meaning of the word.
The final occurrence of pedûth is in Is 50:2 where it occurs with H4480 (to bring from). It is in the expression: 'Is my handH3027 shortened at all,H7114 H7114 that it cannot redeem?H4480 H6304'. This reminds me of the English idiom 'short arms deep pockets' for someone that is disinclined to spend money. The Lord is asking whether we think he arms are unable to reach out to bring redemption.
The Hebrew words considered to this point really describe, in my opinion, the original meanings behind the Biblical usage of the word 'redeem'; however there are two occasions in which the word 'redeem' appears: both in cases where the original Hebrew has a different general meaning.
Qânâh is a relatively common root rendered as: Buy forty-six, get fifteen, purchased five, buyer three, possessor three, possessed two, owner one, recover one, redeemed one.
The rare usage as 'redeemed' is in Nehemiah 5:8:
Neh 5:8 And I saidH559 unto them, WeH587 after our abilityH1767 have redeemedH7069 (H853) our brethrenH251 the Jews,H3064 which were soldH4376 unto the heathen;H1471 and will yeH859 evenH1571 sellH4376 (H853) your brethren?H251 or shall they be soldH4376 unto us? Then held they their peace,H2790 and foundH4672 nothingH3808 H1697 to answer.
The fascinating thing here which is entirely obscured by the English is that if ever there was a verse crying out for gâ'al it is this verse. Redemption of kindred sold into slavery. The need for gâ'al feels so strong that the translators have effectively filled it in. Which leads to the obvious question: why is it not in the original?
Of course, I do not actually know the answer. However I would observe that gâ'al does not appear anywhere in post-exilic Biblical literature. The very nature of the complaint here in Nehemiah shows that the notion of permanent inheritance and possession had been completely trodden underfoot. The very bonds of brotherhood that Nehemiah was trying to emphasize were not really a part of the prevalent thought. It is therefore possible that Nehemiah therefore switched to the language of the market to emphasize the nature of the transactions which were effectively occurring.
The last of the Hebrew words rendered redeem is the relatively rare pâraq which means to tear or break off. The first use of it is in Genesis 27:40 when it describes the way in which Esau was to break free from the yoke of Jacob. It is only rendered as redeem on one occasion which is Psalms 136:24:
This is clearly similar to pâdâh insofar as we are being saved from a peril although it is rather different in that there is no indication that our enemies have legitimate right to us at this point.
Three of the Greek words rendered 'redeem' in the New Testament are derived from the Greek noun lutron (G3083). Lutron itself is not rendered redeem: on the two occasions it appears (Mat 20:28, Mar 10:45) it is rendered as 'ransom'. Lutron is also a derived word coming from luō (G3089) which means to loosen. Lutron is thus the price paid to loosen something; the ransom price. In New Testament usage both occurrences refer to the price the Lord paid to loosen us from our iniquity.
The first word in the family which is actually rendered 'redeem' is the feminine noun apolutrōsis (G629). Being derived from lutron and apo it literally means 'from a ransom' or as Thayer puts it: 'a releasing effected by payment of ransom'. The New Testament has ten occurrences of , nine of which are rendered 'redemption' with 'deliverance' occurring once.
Examining each occurrence in turn we see that the word is clearly linked to the redemption of God. In Luke 21:28 it is the redemption that occurs when the Son of God comes in power. In Romans 3:24 it is the redemption that is the mechanism of our justification. In Romans 8:23 the point at which our bodies are changed into incorruptible ones.
It is perhaps interesting to note that a reading of the nine verses shows quite clearly that at least two 'points' of redemption are identified. On the one hand it is seen as past tense; something which occurred when Christ died for our sins (Eg Rom 3:24, Col 1:14). On the other it is something as yet future; and the Holy Spirit is our assurance that it will occur (Eg Eph 4:30).
The verb lutroo (G3084) occurs on three occasions and is rendered as 'redeem' on each occasion. It is described by Thayer as: 'to release on receipt of ransom'. It is first used in Luke 24:21 where Christ was described as: 'he which should have redeemed Israel'. The occurrence in Titus 2:14 is particularly interesting as it is in the subjunctive:
TITUS 2:14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
Thus we learn that his giving himself for us was necessary so that our redemption was a possibility. In Peter 1:18 we learn that we were redeemed. The verb is aorist passive indicative: in other words it happened at a point in time (aorist), it happened to us (passive) and it really happened (indicative).
The final word in this word family which is rendered redeem is lutrōsis (G3085). It is a weaker form of G629 referring to redemption rather than redemption from something. It only occurs on three occasions. In Luke 1:68 it is used by Zacharias to describe what God was doing for Israel. In Luke 2:38 it is used to describe what Anna was looking for. In Hebrews 9:12 it describes that eternal redemption that we have through Christ.
The verb agorazō(G59) literally means: 'to be in the market place' and thus by implication to buy or to sell. It is a relatively common New Testament word occurring on thirty one occasions. The breakdown of its renderings is given here:
|Tense: Aorist Active Indicative - Occurs:6|
|I have bought||2||Lu 14:18, Lu 14:19|
|and bought||1||Mt 27:7|
|had bought||1||Mr 16:1|
|hast redeemed||1||Re 5:9|
|Tense: Aorist Active Subjunctive - Occurs:5|
|and buy||3||Mr 6:36, Mr 6:37, Lu 9:13|
|Buy||2||Mt 14:15, Joh 4:8|
|Tense: Present Active Participle - Occurs:4|
|Bought||2||Mt 21:12, Mr 11:15|
|them that bought||1||Lu 19:45|
|they that buy||1||1Co 7:30|
|Tense: Aorist Active Infinitive - Occurs:3|
|to buy||2||Mt 25:10, Re 3:18|
|Tense: Aorist Passive Indicative - Occurs:3|
|Ye are bought||1||1Co 7:23|
|were redeemed||1||Re 14:4|
|ye are bought||1||1Co 6:20|
|Tense: Aorist Active Imperative - Occurs:2|
|Tense: Aorist Active Participle - Occurs:2|
|he bought||1||Mr 15:46|
|that bought||1||2Pe 2:1|
|Tense: Future Active Indicative - Occurs:2|
|shall we buy||1||Joh 6:5|
|Tense: Present Active Indicative - Occurs:2|
|Buyeth||2||Mt 13:44, Re 18:11|
|Tense: Imperfect Active Indicative - Occurs:1|
|they bought||1||Lu 17:28|
|Tense: Perfect Passive Participle - Occurs:1|
|were redeemed||1||Re 14:3|
As can be seen the word is most generally rendered 'buy' or 'bought' although it is rendered 'redeem' on three occasions; all of them in Revelation. That said a number of the places where 'bought' is used redemption is clearly the concept in view. For example in First Corinthians 6:20 'ye were bought with a price' refers to the redemption of the believer. Second Peter 2:1 'denying the Lord that bought them' is a similar example.
The three occasions where the word 'redeem' is used also tell the redemption story. In the song of the elders in Revelation 5 Christ is described as the 'one that redeemed'. In Revelation 14:3 the one hundred and forty four thousand are described as those which were redeemed. Beautifully it is the perfect passive participle that is used: the perfect implying not simply that the action is complete but that it has future ramifications. In Revelation 14:4 the complete historic nature of their redemption (Aorist Passive Indicative) is drawn out.
Exagorazō (G1805) is a strengthened form of G59 which literally means to 'buy up'. It only occurs four times and on each occasion is rendered 'redeem'. The first occurrence gives a clear and unequivocal definition:
Gal 3:13 ChristG5547 hath redeemedG1805 usG2248 fromG1537 theG3588 curseG2671 of theG3588 law,G3551 being madeG1096 a curseG2671 forG5228 us:G2257 forG1063 it is written,G1125 CursedG1944 is every oneG3956 that hangethG2910 onG1909 a tree:G3586
The second occurrence also refers that we needed to be redeemed from under the law. It is however in the subjunctive to show us that Christ was born under the law so that our redemption could be possible.
I am well aware that a good conclusion should contain no new material. Nonetheless I am also aware that in a paper as analytical as this one there is a grave danger that I may have dissected the bread of life to the point where one is left with very little other than scattered crumbs. Therefore my aim in this closing section is not simply to precis the foregoing but also to attempt to weave together an overview of the principles that these words may be teaching us as a collection.
From the perspective of the Old Testament the definition of 'redeem' really rests upon two words: gâ'al and pâdâh. The former really rests heavily upon middle-eastern custom and Jewish law. The latter is more cross-cultural and evidences the peril in which the redeemed had previously been.
More specifically gâ'al is closely tied in Hebrew thought with the notion of a relative. The book of Ruth entirely hinges upon this concept and many of the occurrences of gâ'al are in that book; often rendered as 'kinsman' or 'kinsman-redeemer'. Within the law the gâ'al had the right and responsibility to act on behalf of another: be it to own their property, raise their children or even to avenge their death. We also saw that this right or responsibility was considered to be of value and that it could even be traded: the concept is encapsulated in the word ge'ûllâh.
Pâdâh is often used to describe the substitution for someone or something that was about to be killed. Occasionally it is used to express the release of a slave from captivity when not done as part of the standard 'gâ'al' style redemption. On occasion it could be money that results in the redemption in which case the relatively rare pidyôm was used.
There are two other Hebrew words rendered as redeem but only once each: Qânâh to buy and pâraq to break off. It is interesting that these two minor Hebrew concepts are directly equivalent to the two major Greek bases of 'redeem': luō to loosen and agorazō to buy.
Further contrasting the Greek to the Hebrew we see that in Greek we start with the price of redemption (lutron) and then derive the act of redemption as that which occurs once the price has been paid. This contrasts to the Hebrew which views the verb as the root and then derives the ransom as the price paid to cause the action to happen. It might almost be fair to state that in the Greek it is 'all about the money' or more accurately 'all about the price'.
Taking the Word of God as a whole we therefore see that redemption may be viewed from three separate angles: the relationship that exists between two people that makes redemption legally applicable, the peril that one party is in that makes redemption necessary and finally the price that must be paid to cause redemption to occur.
It could go without saying, although probably shouldn't, that all three of these apply to the relationship between ourselves and our Lord.
I wish to finish with the thought with which this paper started: the redeemed of the Lord should say so. I hope that this paper has helped us to more fully comprehend what redemption means and hopefully emboldened us to say so that little bit more clearly than we have before.