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Fausset's Bible Dictionary [1]

Qedem , literally, "before"; for in describing the points of the compass the person faced the E. or sunrise (Greek Anatolee , the E.), which was thus before or in front of him; the S. was on his right, and so is called in Hebrew "the right hand"; the N. was on his left, and so is called in Hebrew "the left hand."  Job 23:8-9, "forward," i.e. eastward; "backward," i.e. westward; "on the left hand," i.e. to the N.; "on the right hand," i.e. in the S. So the Hindus call the E. Para , "before "; the W. Apara , "behind "; the S. Doschina , "the right hand"; the N. Bama , "the left." Μizrach , "the sunrise," is used when the E. is distinguished from the W.

Qedem is also used to designate the lands lying immediately E. of Palestine, namely, Arabia, Mesopotamia, Babylonia.  Genesis 25:6; trans. "unto the land of Qedem, for unto the E. country";  Genesis 29:1, Haran. Mizrach is used of the E. more indefinitely. The Greek plural Anatolai , "the sunrisings," is used of the E. indefinitely, the eastern point of the compass ( Matthew 2:1); but Hee Anatolee , "the sunrising," singular, is used of a definite locality. So Qedem with the article ( Genesis 10:30) expresses the definite country S, Arabia; "Sephara mount of the E.," a seaport on the coast of Hadramaut. More generally said of N. Arabia and Mesopotamia.  Job 1:3; "the children of the E." are mentioned with the Midianites and Amalekites ( Judges 6:3;  Judges 6:33;  Judges 7:12).

Gideon and his servant understood their talk, showing that theirs was a Semitic dialect akin to the Hebrew, before it had greatly diverged from the common parent tongue. In  Ezekiel 25:4 "the men of the E." are the wandering Bedouin tribes of Arabia Deserta; "they shall set their palaces in thee" (Ammon); irony; where thy palaces once stood, they shall set up very different "palaces," namely, nomadic encampments and mud-surrounded folds ( Jeremiah 49:28-29). Αrab is the Old Testament name for "the children of the E." (See Aram .)  Isaiah 2:6, "replenished from the E., i.e., filled with the superstitions of the E., namely, the astrology and sorceries of Chaldea.

Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words [2]

1: Ἀνατολή (Strong'S #395 — Noun Feminine — anatole — an-at-ol-ay' )

primarily "a rising," as of the sun and stars, corresponds to anatello, "to make to rise," or, intransitively, "to arise," which is also used of the sunlight, as well as of other objects in nature. In  Luke 1:78 it is used metaphorically of Christ as "the Dayspring," the One through whom light came into the world, shining immediately into Israel, to dispel the darkness which was upon all nations. Cp.   Malachi 4:2 . Elsewhere it denotes the "east," as the quarter of the sun's rising,  Matthew 2:1,2,9;  8:11;  24:27;  Luke 13:29;  Revelation 7:2;  16:12;  21:13 . The "east" in general stands for that side of things upon which the rising of the sun gives light. In the heavenly city itself,  Revelation 21:13 , the reference to the "east" gate points to the outgoing of the influence of the city "eastward." See Dayspring.

Webster's Dictionary [3]

(1): ( n.) The point in the heavens where the sun is seen to rise at the equinox, or the corresponding point on the earth; that one of the four cardinal points of the compass which is in a direction at right angles to that of north and south, and which is toward the right hand of one who faces the north; the point directly opposite to the west.

(2): ( adv.) Eastward.

(3): ( v. i.) To move toward the east; to veer from the north or south toward the east; to orientate.

(4): ( n.) The eastern parts of the earth; the regions or countries which lie east of Europe; the orient. In this indefinite sense, the word is applied to Asia Minor, Syria, Chaldea, Persia, India, China, etc.; as, the riches of the East; the diamonds and pearls of the East; the kings of the East.

(5): ( n.) Formerly, the part of the United States east of the Alleghany Mountains, esp. the Eastern, or New England, States; now, commonly, the whole region east of the Mississippi River, esp. that which is north of Maryland and the Ohio River; - usually with the definite article; as, the commerce of the East is not independent of the agriculture of the West.

(6): ( a.) Toward the rising sun; or toward the point where the sun rises when in the equinoctial; as, the east gate; the east border; the east side; the east wind is a wind that blows from the east.

(7): ( a.) Designating, or situated in, that part of a church which contains the choir or chancel; as, the east front of a cathedral.

Easton's Bible Dictionary [4]

  • The orient (mizrah); the rising of the sun. Thus "the east country" is the country lying to the east of Syria, the Elymais ( Zechariah 8:7 ).

    (2). Properly what is in front of one, or a country that is before or in front of another; the rendering of the word Kedem . In pointing out the quarters, a Hebrew always looked with his face toward the east. The word Kedem Is used when the four quarters of the world are described (  Genesis 13:14;  28:14 ); and Mizrah When the east only is distinguished from the west (  Joshua 11:3;  Psalm 50:1;  103:12 , etc.). In  Genesis 25:6 "eastward" is literally "unto the land of kedem;" i.e., the lands lying east of Palestine, namely, Arabia, Mesopotamia, etc.

    Copyright Statement These dictionary topics are from M.G. Easton M.A., DD Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition, published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. Public Domain.

    Bibliography Information Easton, Matthew George. Entry for 'East'. Easton's Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/ebd/e/east.html. 1897.

  • American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [5]

    The Hebrews, in speaking of the different quarters of the heaven, always suppose the face to be turned towards the east. Hence "before," or "forwards," means the east; "behind" is the west; the right-hand is south, and the left hand, north. Besides the ordinary meanings of the word east,  Joshua 4:19;  Psalm 103:12 , the Jews often used it to designate a large region lying northeast and southeast of Palestine, including Syria and Arabia near at hand, and Babylonia, Assyria, Armenia, etc., with the whole region from the Caspian sea to the Arabian gulf,  Genesis 29:1;  Numbers 23:7;  Judges 6:3;  7:12;  8:10 . The wise men who visited the infant Savior dwelt somewhere in this region; and being "in the east," saw his star-not east of them, but in the direction to guide them to Jerusalem,  Matthew 2:1,2 .

    Smith's Bible Dictionary [6]

    East. The Hebrew term, kedem , properly means that which is Before or In Front Of a person, and was applied to the east, from the custom of turning in that direction, when describing the points of the compass, Before, Behind, the Right and the Left representing respectively east, west, south and north.  Job 23:8-9.

    The term as generally used refers to the lands lying immediately eastward of Palestine, namely, Arabia, Mesopotamia and Babylonia; on the other hand, mizrach , is used of the Far east with a less definite signification.  Isaiah 42:2;  Isaiah 42:25;  Isaiah 43:5;  Isaiah 46:11.

    King James Dictionary [7]

    EAST, n. L. oriens, this word may belong to the root of hoise,hoist.

    1. The point in the heavens, where the sun is seen to rise at the equinox, or when it is in the equinoctial, or the corresponding point on the earth one of the four cardinal points. The east and the west are the points where the equator intersects the horizon. But to persons under the equinoctial line, that line constitutes east and west. 2. The eastern parts of the earth the regions or countries which lie east of Europe, or other country. In this indefinite sense, the word is applied to Asia Minor, Syria, Chaldea, Persia, India, China, &c. We speak of the riches of the east, the diamonds and pearls of the east, the kings of the east.

    The gorgeous east, with richest hand,

    Pours on her kings barbaric,pearl and gold.

    EAST, a. Towards the rising sun or towards the point where the sun rises, when in the equinoctial as the east gate the east border the east side. The east wind is a wind that blows from the east.

    Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [8]

    one of the four cardinal points of the world; namely, that particular point of the horizon in which the sun is seen to rise. The Hebrews express the east, west, north, and south by words which signify before, behind, left, and right, according to the situation of a man who has his face turned toward the east. By the east, they frequently describe, not only Arabia Deserta, and the lands of Moab and Ammon, which lay to the east of Palestine, but also Assyria, Mesopotamia, Babylonia, and Chaldea, though they are situated rather to the north than to the east of Judea. Balaam, Cyrus, and the wise men who visited Bethlehem at the time Christ was born, are said to come from the east,  Numbers 23:7;  Isaiah 46:11;  Matthew 2:1 .

    Morrish Bible Dictionary [9]

    Several words are used to express the East, which imply 'going forth,' 'rising,' 'that which is before,' having reference to the sun and its rising. Nearly all the references in scripture to the East or to other quarters are of course reckoned from Palestine; so that 'children of the East,' 'men of the East,' point out Assyria, Babylon, etc.

    THE EAST WINDwas distressing and destructive to vegetation,  Genesis 41:6,23,27; dangerous to vessels at sea,  Psalm 48:7 ,  Ezekiel 27:26; and is symbolical of the withering power of God's judgements.  Hosea 13:15 .

    Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types [10]

     Genesis 3:24 (c) The direction of the sunrise is probably to keep ever before the people the fact that Christ will arise as the Son of Righteousness with healing in His wings. The gate to the tabernacle was on the east side and so was the door to the tabernacle. Evidently this is typical of the truth concerning the return of our Lord.

     Psalm 103:12 (b) Since there is no measurement between these distances, this is typical of the complete removal of the sins of the believer.

    Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [11]

    is the rendering of the following terms in the English Bible. (See Geography).

    1.' מַזְרִח Mizrach properly denotes the Rising, sc. of the sun, and strictly corresponds with the Greek, Άνατολή , and the Latin, Oriens. It is used tropically for the east indefinitely ( Psalms 103:12;  Daniel 8:9;  Amos 8:12, etc.); also definitely for some place in relation to others, thus, "The land of the east," i.e., the country lying to the east of Syria, the Elymais ( Zechariah 8:7); "the east of Jericho" ( Joshua 4:19); "the east gate" ( Nehemiah 3:29), and adverbially " eastward" ( 1 Chronicles 7:28;  1 Chronicles 9:24, etc.). Sometimes the full expression מַזְרִחשֶׁמֶשׁ , sunrise is used (indefinitely  Isaiah 41:25; definitely,  Judges 11:18). See below.

    2. קֶדֶם , Ke'Dem (with its modifications), properly means What Is In Front Of, Before (comp.  Psalms 139:5;  Isaiah 9:11 [12]). As the Hebrews, in pointing out the quarters, looked towards the east, קֶדֶם , fore, came to signify the east, as אָהוֹר , Behind, the west, and יָמַין , the right hand, the south. In this sense Kedem is used (a) indefinitely,  Genesis 11:2;  Genesis 13:11, etc.; (b) relatively,  Numbers 34:11, etc.; (a) definitely, to denote the regions lying to the east of Palestine ( Genesis 29:1;  Numbers 23:7;  Isaiah 9:11; sometimes in the full form, אֶרֶוֹ 9 קֶדֶם , " Land Of The East" ( Genesis 25:6), the inhabitants of which are denominated בְּנֵיקֶדם " children of the east." (See Bene-Kedem).

    Sometimes kedem and mizrach are used together (e.g.  Exodus 27:13;  Joshua 19:12), which is, after all not so tautological as it appears to be in our translation "on the east side eastward." Bearing in mind this etymological distinction, it is natural that Kedem should be used when the Four quarters of the world are described (as in  Genesis 13:14;  Genesis 28:14;  Job 23:8-9;  Ezekiel 47:18 sq.), and Mizrach when the east is only distinguished from the West ( Joshua 11:3;  Psalms 1:1;  Psalms 103:12;  Psalms 113:3;  Zechariah 8:7), or from some other one quarter ( Daniel 8:9;  Daniel 11:44;  Amos 8:12); exceptions to this usage occur in  Psalms 107:3 and  Isaiah 43:5, each, however, admitting of explanation. Again, Kedem is used in a strictly geographical sense to describe a spot or country immediately Before another in an easterly direction; hence it occurs in such passages as  Genesis 2:8;  Genesis 3:24;  Genesis 11:2;  Genesis 13:11;  Genesis 25:6; and hence the subsequent application of the term as a proper name ( Genesis 25:6, Eastward, Unto The Land Of Kedem), to the lands lying immediately eastward of Palestine, viz. Arabia, Mesopotamia, Babylonia, etc.; on the other hand, mizrach is used of the far east with a less definite signification ( Isaiah 41:2;  Isaiah 41:25;  Isaiah 43:5;  Isaiah 46:11). In describing Aspect Or Direction, the terms are used indifferently (comp. Kedem in  Leviticus 1:16, and  Joshua 7:2, with Mizrach in  2 Chronicles 5:12, and  1 Chronicles 5:10). (See West); etc.

    "The East" is the name given by the ancient Hebrews to a certain region, without any regard to its relation to the eastern part of the heavens, comprehending not only Arabia Deserta and the lands of Moab and Ammon, which really lay to the east of Palestine but also Armenia, Assyria, Mesopotamia, Babylonia, and Chaldea, which were situated rather to the north than the east of Judaea. Its geographical boundaries include Syria, the countries beyond the Tigris and Euphrates, and the shores of the Indiana Ocean and of the Arabian Gulf. The name given to this entire region by the Hebrews was אֶרֶוֹ קֶדֶם ( Ἀνατολή ), or the land of Kedem or East; by the Babylonians it was called עֲרָב , or Ἀραβία Arabia. Its miscellaneous population were called by the former "sons of the East," or Orientals, and by the latter either Arabians, or the "people of the West." The Jews themselves also apply to them the Babylonian name in some of their books written after the Captivity ( 2 Chronicles 22:1;  Nehemiah 2:9). The Arabs anciently denominated themselves, and do to this day, by either of these names. To this region belong the "kings of the East" ( Isaiah 19:11;  Jeremiah 25:19-25, Hebrew). The following passages may suffice as instances showing the arbitrary application of the term "east" to this region. Balaam says that Balak, king of Moab, had brought him from the mountains of the east ( Numbers 23:7), i.e., from Pethor on the Euphrates. Isaiah places Syria in the east ( Numbers 9:11), " the Syrians from the east" (bishop Lowth). The distinction seems evident in  Genesis 29:1," Jacob came unto the land of the children of the East." It occurs again in  Judges 6:3, "Even the children of the East came against them" (Sept. Οἱ Υἱοὶ Άνατολῶν ; Vulg. Coeteri Orientalium Nationum). The preceding facts enable us to account for the prodigious numbers of persons sometimes assembled in war against the Israelites ( Judges 6:5;  Judges 7:12), " and the children of the East were like grasshoppers for multitude," and for the astonishing carnage recorded ( Judges 8:10), "there fell a hundred and twenty thousand men that drew the sword." It seems that the inhabitants of this region were distinguished for their proficiency in the arts and sciences (compare  1 Kings 1:4;  1 Kings 1:30), and were addicted in the time of Isaiah to superstition ( Isaiah 26:1-21). (See Arabia).

    The east seems to have been regarded as symbolical of distance ( Isaiah 46:11), as the land stretched out in these directions without any known limit. In  Isaiah 2:6, the house of Jacob is said to be "replenished from the east" ( מ לְאוּ מַקֶּדֶם ), which some explain as referring to witchcraft, or the arts of divination practiced in the East while others, with greater probability, understand it of the men of the East, the diviners and soothsayers who came from the east (compare  Job 15:2); the correct text may, however, be מַקֶּסֶם , With Sorcery, which gives a better sense (Gesen. Thesaur. page 1193). (See Witchcraft).

    3. Ἀνατολή , sunrise. This word usually occurs in the plural, and without the article. When, therefore, we read, as in  Matthew 2:1-2, that Μάγοι Ἀπὸ Ἀνατολῶν came to Jerusalem saying we have seen his star Ἑν Τῇ Ἀνατολῇ , we are led to suspect some special reason for such a variation. The former phrase is naturally rendered as equivalent to Oriental Magi, and the indefinite expression is to be explained by reference to the use of קֶדֶּם in the Old Test. The latter phrase offers greater difficulty. If it be taken "in the east," the questions arise why the singular and not the customary plural should be used? why the article should be added? and why the wise men should have seen the star in the east when the place where the child was lay to the west of their locality (unless, indeed, Ἐν Τῇ Ανατολῇ relates to the star, and not the wise men themselves, to whom it seems to refer). Pressed by the difficulties thus suggested, the majority of recent interpreters take Ἐν Τῇ Ἀνατολῇ literally In Its Rise, and trace a correspondence of this with the Τεχθείς of the preceding clause: they inquired for the child, whom they knew to be born, because they had seen the Rising of his star, the signal of his birth. Alford objects to this, that for such a meaning we should expect Αὐτοῦ , if not in  Matthew 2:2, certainly in  Matthew 2:9; but the construction falls under the case where the article by indicating something closely associated with the subject, supersedes the use of the demonstrative pronoun. In the Sept. Ἀνατολαί is used both for Kedem and Mizrach. It should be observed that the expression is, with but few exceptions ( Daniel 8:9;  Revelation 21:13; compare 7:2; 16:12, from which it would seem to have been John's usage to insert Ἡλίου ), Ἀνατολαί ( Matthew 2:1;  Matthew 8:11;  Matthew 24:27;  Luke 13:29), and not Ἀνατολή . It is hardly possible that Matthew would use the two terms indifferently in succeeding verses ( Matthew 2:1-2), particularly as he adds the article to Ἀνατολή , which is invariably absent in other cases (compare  Revelation 21:13). He seems to imply a definiteness in the locality-that it was the country called קֶדֶם , or Ἀσατολή (comp. the modern Anatolia), as distinct from the quarter or point of the compass ( Ἀνατολαί ) in which it lay. In confirmation of this, it may be noticed that in the only passage where the article is prefixed to Kedem ( Genesis 10:30), the term is used for a definite and restricted locality, namely, Southern Arabia. (See Star In The East).

    The only other terms rendered " east" in the Scriptures are the following: חִרְסוּת (Charsuth', Pottery), applied to a gate of Jerusalem, improperly called "east gate" ( Jeremiah 19:2), but meaning the potters' gate (s.v.), i.e., one which led to the " potters' field" in the valley of Hinnom (see Strong's Harmony and Exposition, Appendix 2, page 11). (See Jerusalem). מוֹצָא (motsa', a Going Forth, as it is elsewhere usually rendered), applied poetically to sunrise ( Psalms 75:6) For "east-wind," "east-sea," see below.

    East, Turning Towards The

    1. The earliest churches faced eastward; at a later period (4th or 5th century) this was reversed, and the sacramental table was placed at the east, so that worshippers facing it in their devotions were turned towards the east. The Jewish custom was to turn to the west in prayer. Socrates says (Ecclesiastes Hist. book 6, chapter 5) that the church of Antioch had its altar on the west, i.e., towards Jerusalem.

    2. Many fanciful reasons are assigned, both by ancient writers and by modern ritualists, for worshipping towards the east. Among them are the following:

    " (1.) The rising sun was the symbol of Christ, the Sun of Righteousness; and, since people must worship towards some quarter of the heavens, they chose that which led them to Christ by symbolical representation (Tertullian, Apol. 1:16).

    (2.) The east was the place, of paradise, our ancient habitation and country, which we lost in the first Adam by the Fall, and whither we hope to be restored again, as to our native abode and rest, in the second Adam, Christ our Savior (Apost. Const. lib. 2, c. 57).

    (3.) The, east was considered the most honorable part of the creation, being the seat of light and brightness.

    (4.) Christ made his appearance on earth in the east, and thence ascended into heaven, and there will appear again as the last day. The authority of many of the fathers has been adduced by ecclesiastical writers in support of these views. The author of the Questions To Antiochus, under the name of Athanasius, gives this account of the practice: 'We do not,' says he, 'worship towards the east, as if we thought God any way shut up in those parts of the world, but because God is in himself the true Light. In turning, therefore, towards the created light, we do not worship it, but the great Creator of it; taking occasion from that most excellent element to adore the God who was before all elements and ages in the world.' A little attention to geography shows that these are nothing but fancies. That part of the heavens, for example, which is east at six o'clock in the morning, is west at six o'clock in the evening, so that we cannot at both these periods pray towards 'that quarter of the heavens where (according to Wheatly) God is supposed to have his peculiar residence of glory,' unless, if we turn to the east at morning prayer, we turn to west at even song. Not only so, but two individuals on opposite sides of the globe, though both suppose that they are praying with their faces to the east, are, so far as it respects each other, or any particular 'quarter of the heavens,' praying in opposite directions, one east and the other west, one looking towards that 'quarter,' the other away from it. So that all such reasons are rendered futile by the geographical fact that, owing to the rotation of the earth on its axis, every degree of longitude becomes during the twenty-four hours both east and west."

    3. Turning East In Baptism. In the ancient baptisteries were two apartments: first, a porch or anteroom (Προαύλιος Οϊ v Κος ), where the catechumens made their renunciations of Satan and confessions of faith; and the inner room ( Ἐσώτερος Οϊ v Κος ), where the ceremony of baptism was performed. When the catechumens were brought into the former of these they were placed with their faces to the west, and were then commanded to renounce Satan with some gesture and rite expressing an indignation against him, as by stretching out their hands, or folding them, or striking them together, and sometimes by spitting at him as if he were present. The words generally used by the candidate were, "I renounce Satan, and his works, and his pomps, and his service, and his angels, and his inventions, and all things that belong to him, or that are subject to him." The reason assigned by Cyril (Catech. Mystag.) for standing with the face to the west during this adjuration is that the west is the place of darkness; and Satan is darkness, and his kingdom is darkness. That the candidate turned his face to the east, and made his solemn confession of obedience to Christ, generally in these words', I give myself up to thee, O Christ, to be governed by thy laws." This was called promissum, pactum, or votum a promise, a covenant, a vow. The face was turned to the east because, as Cyril tells his disciples, since they had renounced the devil, the paradise of God, which was planted in the east, and whence our first parents were driven for their transgression into banishment, was now laid open to them. Bingham, Orig. Ecclesiastes book 11, chapter 7, § 4; Farrar, Ecclesiastes Diet. s.v.

    4. It is "a curious instance of the inveteracy of popular custom that in Scotland, where everything that savored of ancient usage was set aside as popish by the reformers, the practice of burying with the feet to the east was maintained in the old churchyards; nor is it uncommon still to set down churches with a scrupulous regard to east and west. In modern cemeteries in England and Scotland no attention appears to be paid to the old punctilio of interring with the feet to the east, the nature of the ground alone being considered in the disposition of graves" (Chambers, Encyclopaedia, s.v.). Wheatly, On Common Prayer, chapter 2, § 2; Hook, Ecclesiastes Dict. s.v.; Bingham, Orig. Eccl. 13, 8:15. (See Church Edifices).

    Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [12]

    This word, which is used by English writers in only two senses, viz. to denote either the quarter of the heavens where the sun rises, or the regions in the eastern part of the world, has frequently three senses in the Authorized Version of the Bible. Thus, it is sometimes used to mean the sun-rising , 'as far as the east is from the west;' and very frequently it corresponds to kedem, the name given by the ancient Hebrews to a certain region, without any regard to its relation to the eastern part of the heavens, comprehending not only Arabia Deserta and the lands of Moab and Ammon, which really lay to the east of Palestine, but also Armenia, Assyria, Mesopotamia, Babylonia, and Chaldea, which were situated rather to the north than the east of Judea. Its geographical boundaries include Syria, the countries beyond the Tigris and Euphrates, the shores of the Indian Ocean and of the Arabian Gulf. The name given to this entire region by the Hebrews was the land of Kedem or East, and its miscellaneous population were called by them Sons of the East, or Orientals. It seems that the inhabitants of this region were distinguished for their proficiency in the arts and sciences (comp. ), and were addicted in the time of Isaiah to superstition . The wise men, who came from the East to Jerusalem at the birth of the Savior, no doubt belonged to this tract of country, 'saying, We have seen his star in the East.' Campbell remarks that 'to see either star or meteor in the east,' means, in English, to see it in the East-quarter of the heavens, or looking eastward. But this cannot be the Evangelist's meaning. The meaning manifestly is, that when the magians themselves were in the East, they saw the star. So far were they from seeing the star in the East, according to the English acceptation of the phrase, that they must have seen it in the West, as they were by its guidance brought out of the East country westwards to Jerusalem.