Scriptures Bible Dictionary
Bible Dictionary


Lacked or a state of being absent (Prov. 10: 19; Jer. 33: 17; John 2: 3 ).

Bible Dictionary

War in Heaven

This term arises out of Rev. 12: 7 and refers to the conflict that took place in the premortal existence among the spirit children of God. The war was primarily over how and in what manner the plan of salvation would be administered to the forthcoming human family upon the earth. The issues involved such things as agency, how to gain salvation, and who should be the Redeemer. The war broke out because one-third of the spirits refused to accept the appointment of Jesus Christ as the Savior. Such a refusal was a rebellion against the Father’s plan of redemption. It was evident that if given agency, some persons would fall short of complete salvation; Lucifer and his followers wanted salvation to come automatically to all who passed through mortality, without regard to individual preference, agency, or voluntary dedication (see Isa. 14: 12-20; Luke 10: 18; Rev. 12: 4-13; D&C 29: 36-38; Moses 4: 1-4 ). The spirits who thus rebelled and persisted were thrust out of heaven and cast down to the earth without mortal bodies, “and thus came the devil and his angels” (D&C 29: 37; see also Rev. 12: 9; Abr. 3: 24-28 ).

The warfare is continued in mortality in the conflict between right and wrong; between the gospel and false principles, etc. The same contestants and the same issues are doing battle, and the same salvation is at stake.

Although one-third of the spirits became devils, the remaining two-thirds were not all equally valiant, there being every degree of devotion to Christ and the Father among them. The most diligent were chosen to be rulers in the kingdom (Abr. 3: 22-23). The nature of the conflict, however, is such that there could be no neutrals, then or now (Matt. 12: 30; 1 Ne. 14: 10; Alma 5: 38-40 ).

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The Jews, like the Babylonians and Greeks, divided the night into three watches, “the beginning of the watches,” i.e., sunset till 10 p.m. (Lam. 2: 19); the “middle watch,” 10 p.m. till 2 a.m. (Judg. 7: 19; and the “morning watch,” 2 a.m. till sunrise (Ex. 14: 24; 1 Sam. 11: 11; Luke 12: 38 ). The Romans had four watches, and it is their practice that is followed in Mark 6: 48; Mark 13: 35; Matt. 14: 25.

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Wave offering

Part of the ritual of the Feast of the Passover (Lev. 23: 10-14); see Feasts. Waving was a movement backwards and forwards, while heaving was a movement up and down.

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Practiced in Palestine from the earliest times. The loom in use was an upright frame, provided with a horizontal beam (1 Sam. 17: 7) from which a row of threads, called the warp (Lev. 13: 48) or web (Judg. 16: 13) was hung. Each thread ran through a loop, by means of which it was moved backwards and forwards, while the shuttle, a wooden implement shaped like a boat, passed to and from among the threads of the warp, winding off from itself, as it went, the thread called the woof (Lev. 13: 48), which was at right angles with the warp. In Job. 7: 6 the shuttle is the emblem of the swift flight of man’s life.

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Weeks, Feast of

= Feast of Pentecost

See Feasts.

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Weights and Measures

(See also Money.)

The meanings of the terms that are used in the Bible for measurements and weights, with their relative values and ratios, varied from time to time, which makes it difficult to arrive at a correct understanding of these things today. Such terms must be interpreted in the light of the period of time in which they are used. Early systems of measurement were quite imprecise, as, for example, a bowshot (Gen. 21: 16); a donkey load (being a “heap” of grain or a “homer”); a furrow length (source of our word furlong ); a day’s journey (Num. 11: 31); three days’ journey (Gen. 30: 36; cf. Gen. 31: 23 ); and such other measures as span, handbreadth, cubit, fathom (a full stretch of the arms, or about 5 1/2 to 6 feet), pace, etc. These often used as a standard a part of the human body. Furthermore, an acre was originally the amount of land that could be plowed in a day using a yoke of oxen, as in 1 Sam. 14: 14. Land area was also measured by the amount of grain needed to sow it, as in Lev. 27: 16. This system of measurement was simply not accurate enough for commercial use. Later, international trade, and subsequent political domination by the Greeks and the Romans, forced some degree of standardization for purposes of tribute, taxation, architecture, and the like. Thus the same term may vary in meaning in O.T. and N.T. times.

Metals were at first primarily measured by weight, whereas other things were measured by bulk or by size. Thus silver and gold were calculated by weight until coinage became popular (probably 5th century B.C., after the Babylonian exile), and then the standard shifted from weight to value. Hence, a silver coin of a certain value would not weigh the same as an equivalent value of silver measured by the earlier standard of weight. Originally a shekel was a term for a certain weight; later it became a term for the value of a piece of money.

Some of the principal weights mentioned in the Bible are

Shekel. It is uncertain what its exact weight was in early times; from the 2nd century B.C. onward it was 218 grains (15.126 grams).

Pound. (Heb. Maneh ); equivalent to 50 shekels; 20 oz., or 571.2 grams.

Talent. (Heb. kikkar ); equivalent to 3,000 shekels (see Ex. 38: 25,26 ); about 75.6 lbs., or 34.272 kg.

(Note: The foregoing are relevant to the O.T. The words talent and pound in the N.T. refer not to weights, but to sums of money.)

Bekah. Half a shekel; 88.14 grains, or 5.712 grams.

Some measures of length are

Cubit. The distance from the elbow to the tip of the finger, normally about 17 1/2 inches, or 444.25 millimeters (approx. 44.43 cm.).

Sabbath day’s journey. About 2,000 cubits.

Fathom. Approximately 6 feet, or 1.84 meters.

Furlong. 220 yards, or 201.17 meters.

Mile. A U.S. statute mile = 1760 yards or 1.609 km. An English mile = 1,620 yards or 1.482 km.

Some measure of capacity are

Bath(liquid). Said to be approximately 8 1/4 U.S. gallons, or 31.3 liters.

Cab(liquid and dry). Said to be less than 2 quarts, or less than 1.8 liters

Cor(liquid and dry). Said to equal 10 baths.

Ephah(dry). Said to be equivalent to a bath; one-tenth of a homer.

Firkin(liquid). Said to be slightly more than a bath.

Homer(dry). Said to be 10 ephahs. A homer is also believed to be 230 liters (or about 6 1/2 U.S. bushels dry measure).

Bible Dictionary


A few species of whale sometimes occur in the Mediterranean, but the Heb. word (tannin) so translated denotes any great animal of the depths of the sea.

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Wilderness of the Exodus

It is not yet possible to fix with certainty the exact route of the Israelites during their wanderings. They started from the two store cities, Rameses and Pithom (or Succoth). Passing around the head of the Gulf of Suez, they reached the wilderness of Shur (Ex. 15: 22), which is probably the same as the wilderness of Etham (Num. 33: 8). They then turned southward, by Marah (now ‘Ayun Musa) and Elim (Num. 33: 10), till they reached the wilderness of Sin, where they were first fed with manna. Turning eastward they reached Rephidim, which was renamed Meribah and Massah. There they encountered and defeated their first foe, the Amalekites. Exactly three months after leaving Egypt the camp was pitched before Sinai. They remained there rather more than a year (Num. 1: 1). From Sinai they passed by Taberah (Num. 11: 3), Kibroth-hattaavah, and Hazeroth (Num. 11: 34-35), into the wilderness of Paran (Num. 12: 16), and from this place the spies were sent out (Num. 13: 3). They then passed into the wilderness of Zin and encamped by Kadesh, where Miriam died. Edom refused Israel a passage, and the intended route was therefore changed. On Mount Hor Aaron died. The people then moved southward toward Ezion-geber, and then to the east of the mountains of Seir toward the land of Moab. On the way they were punished for their murmuring by a plague of serpents (Num. 21: 4-9). Sihon king of the Amorites refused a passage; he was defeated and his capital, Heshbon, was captured (Num. 21: 21-31). Having also defeated Og, king of Bashan, the Israelites got possession of the pasture lands east of Jordan. Then came the episode of the encounter with the Moabites, who had tried to get the assistance of the soothsayer Balaam (Num. 22-25). In a census taken in the plains of Moab, Caleb and Joshua alone remained of the 600,000 numbered at Sinai.

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A covering for the neck (Isa. 3: 22).

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Winefat, Winepress

Denote respectively the lower and upper of the two vats used for making wine. The grapes were placed in the press and then trodden under foot; the juice was collected in the “fat” underneath.

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Wise Men of the East

Matt. 2: 1-12 states that wise men (how many is not recorded), guided by a new star, came to Bethlehem to worship Jesus sometime after his birth. Who these men were we are not told, but it is certain they were not ordinary men. That they were privileged to search out the Son of God and give him gifts, and that they were spiritually sensitive and knowledgeable, suggests that they were actually prophets on a divine errand. The customary identification of them as astrologers is a gross misrepresentation. They evidently were holy men from a land east of Palestine.

See also Magi.

Bible Dictionary


The herb Artemisia. Used metaphorically of bitter calamity or sorrow (Deut. 29: 18; Jer. 9: 15; Jer. 23: 15; Lam. 3: 15,19; Amos 5: 7 ).

Bible Dictionary


From latter-day revelation we learn that writing sacred records and the recording of genealogy began with Adam and his immediate family. Adam and the early patriarchs had a perfect language that was both spoken and written. See D&C 107: 57; Moses 6: 5-6, 45-46; Abr. 1: 31. This was an important intellectual ability of the people of God, and was given by inspiration. However, among nonbelievers it appears hat there was an intellectual retrogression, so that many peoples subsequently have been without the blessings of a highly cultured spoken and written language. There has been a gradual renaissance in literary things, but nothing yet has equaled the pure and undefiled language of Adam. The promise is, however, that perfection in language and writing will return in the future with the full establishment of the kingdom of God on the earth (cf. Zeph. 3: 9; Moses 6: 5-7 ).

The English alphabet in use at the present day is derived from that used by the Egyptian priests in the 25th century B.C., the intermediate alphabets in the line of descent being the Phoenician, Greek, and Roman. In the earliest Egyptian writing the symbols used (called hieroglyphs) were pictures denoting ideas or tangible objects; later they denoted sounds, as in modern alphabets. Papyrus (made from the pith of the plant Cyperus Papyrus ) was the ordinary writing material. It becomes brittle with age, but there are still in existence many thousands of mss. written upon it. Some of the papyrus rolls were of great length; one that has been preserved is 144 feet long. The writing was in a series of parallel columns. A reed pen and vegetable ink were used. In Babylonia books were written on clay tablets or cylinders while the clay was damp, with a sharp-pointed instrument called a stilus. The symbols used were cuneiform or wedge-shaped. Large libraries of books written in this way have been discovered.

In 1887 a very important discovery was made at Tell el-Amarna in Egypt, between Thebes and Memphis, of some clay tablets with cuneiform inscriptions on them. They proved to be the official correspondence between King Amenophis IV (about 1380 B.C.) and Egyptian governors stationed in Palestine and elsewhere. Jerusalem and Lachish are mentioned by name. This discovery shows that Babylonian writings was used in Palestine 14 centuries before Christ, and was the usual medium for official intercourse among the nations of the East. (See Tell el-Amarna Letters.)

It is clear from the O.T. that the Israelites used rolls (Jer. 36: 2, 18, 23) that were made of sheep or goat skin. The Hebrew alphabet was the same as the Phoenician. The words were written from right to left. The oldest existing hebrew inscription is that of the Moabite Stone. After the return from the Exile the shape of the letters changed somewhat.

The original mss. of the N.T. were probably written on papyrus; the earliest copies now in existence are on vellum. Those manuscripts which are written in capital letters are called uncials, while those written in smaller letters and a running hand are called cursives. Uncial mss. are, as a class, older than cursives. No uncial is later than the 11th century, and no cursive earlier than the 9th. The oldest mss. are written with no breaks between the words and very few stops.

The Book of Mormon presents many interesting insights regarding the problems of writing. See Jacob 4: 1-3; Mosiah 1: 3-4; Morm. 9: 32-34; Ether 12: 23-25.