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Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words [1]

Chebel ( חֶבֶל , Strong'S #2256), “cord; rope; tackle; measuring line; measurement; allotment; portion; region.” Cognates of this word appear in Aramaic, Syriac, Ethiopic, Arabic, and Akkadian. The word appears about 50 times in the Old Testament. )

Chebel primarily means “cord” or “rope.” “Then she let them down by a rope through the window, for her house was built into the city wall” (Josh. 2:15, RSV). The word is used of “tent ropes” in Isa. 33:20: “… A tabernacle that shall not be taken down … neither shall any of the cords thereof be broken.” A ship’s “tackle” is the meaning of chebel in Isa. 33:23.

Used figuratively, chebel emphasizes “being bound.” In 1 Kings 20:31, we read that the Syrians who fled into Aphek proposed to put sackcloth on their heads as a sign of repentance for attacking Israel, and to put “ropes” about their necks as a sign of submission to Israel’s authority. Snares used “cords” or “ropes,” forming a web or a noose into which the prey stepped and was caught. In this manner, the wicked would be caught by God (Job 18:10). In many passages, death is pictured as a hunter whose trap has been sprung and whose quarry is captured by the “cords” of the trap: “The cords of Sheol entangled me; the snares of death confronted me” (2 Sam. 22:6, RSV).

In other cases, the thing that “binds” is good: “I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love …” (Hos. 11:4). Eccl. 12:6 pictures human life as being held together by a silver “cord.”

A “cord” could be used as a “measuring line”: “And he smote Moab, and measured them with a line, casting them down to the ground; even with two lines measured he to put to death, and with one full line to keep alive” (2 Sam. 8:2). This meaning of chebel also occurs in Ps. 78:55: “… And [He] divided them an inheritance by line.” Compare Mic. 2:5: “Therefore thou shalt have none that shall cast a cord by lot in the congregation of the Lord.” The act referred to by Micah appears in Ps. 16:6 as an image of one’s life in general: “The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.” )

Chebel also means “the thing measured or allotted”: “For the Lord’s portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance” (Deut. 32:9). Here the use is clearly figurative, but in 1 Chron. 16:18 the “portion” of Israel’s inheritance is a concrete “measured thing”; this nuance first appears in Josh. 17:5. In passages such as Deut. 3:4, the word is used of a “region” or “a measured area”: “… Threescore cities, all the region of Argob, the kingdom of Og in Bashan.”

The word may refer to a group of people, describing them as that which is tied together— “a band”: “… Thou shalt meet a company of prophets coming down from the high place …” (1 Sam. 10:5).

King James Dictionary [2]

CORD, n. L. Gr. According to the Welsh, this word signifies a twist, from cor, the root of chorus.

1. A string, or small rope, composed of several strands twisted together. Rahab let down the spies by a cord through the window.  Joshua 2 . 2. A quantity of wood, or other material, originally measured with a cord or line. The cord is a pile containing 128 cubic feet or a pile eight feet long, four feet high, and four feet broad. 3. In scripture, the cords of the wicked are the snares with which they catch the unwary.  Psalms 129 .

The cords of sin are bad habits, or the consequences of sin.  Proverbs 5 .

The cords of a man are the fair, gentle or natural means of alluring men to obedience.  Hosea 11 .

The cords of vanity are worldly vanities and pleasures, profit or preferment or vain and deceitful arguments and pretenses, which draw men to sin.  Isaiah 5 .

To stretch a line or cord about a city, is to level it, or utterly to destroy it.  Lamentations 2 .

The cords of a tent denote stability. To loosen or break the cords, is to weaken or destroy to lengthen the cords, is to enlarge.  Job 30 .  Isaiah 54 .  Jeremiah 10 .


1. To bind with a cord or rope to fasten with cords. 2. To pile wood or other material for measurement and sale by the cord.

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [3]

"Lengthen thy cords, strengthen thy stakes" ( Isaiah 54:2); an image from a tent (appropriate, as the Israelite church was symbolized by the tabernacle); it, when enlarged, needs at once longer cords and stronger stakes. The church must not merely seek new converts, but strengthen in faith existing members. So in  Job 4:21, "is not their cord in them unstrung?" or "snapped," so that their earthly tabernacle comes down ( 2 Corinthians 5:1). In  Ecclesiastes 12:6, "or ever the silver cord be loosed or the golden bowl be broken," the meaning is, before life's gilded lamp suspended from on high by the cord of intertwined silk and silver, be broken by the snapping of the cord.

"The golden bowl" may hint at the skull; "the silver cord," the spinal marrow attached to the brain, white and precious as silver. "He hath loosed my cord" ( Job 30:11) is animate from a bow unstrung (contrast  Job 29:20). In  Hosea 11:4, "I drew them with cords of a man," i.e., with human methods, as a father would draw his child by leading strings. In  Micah 2:5, "cast a cord by lot" i.e. have any measured out possession, cords being used for measurement ( Joshua 13:6;  Psalms 16:6).

Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types [4]

 Joshua 2:15-21 (c) It is a symbol of the precious Blood of Christ As this red cord hanging from Rahab's window announced her faith in GOD, in His Word, and His promises, so the precious Blood applied to our hearts by faith announces this same truth for us.

 Job 30:11 (c) This cord represents those bonds and bands which bound Job to GOD in sweet favor and rich prosperity. The Lord loosened the bands and permitted Job to fall into affliction and poverty.

 Psalm 2:3 (b) It refers to the restraining influence of GOD which the wicked kings of earth desire to dispel. They wish to live and do as they please and to be free from the restraint of GOD and His Word. Such examples are Russia and Germany.

 Ecclesiastes 4:12 (b) Three persons whose hearts and lives are bound together in love and in happy fellowship are compared to a threefold cord or rope which has more strength than either one strand or two strands.

 Isaiah 5:18 (b) This is a type of the evil desires of the human heart which crave wicked and sinful practices.

 Hosea 11:4 (b) This is a type of those lovely and gracious attributes in GOD's heart which draws other hearts to Him.

Webster's Dictionary [5]

(1): (n.) Fig.: Any moral influence by which persons are caught, held, or drawn, as if by a cord; an enticement; as, the cords of the wicked; the cords of sin; the cords of vanity.

(2): (n.) A solid measure, equivalent to 128 cubic feet; a pile of wood, or other coarse material, eight feet long, four feet high, and four feet broad; - originally measured with a cord or line.

(3): (n.) Any structure having the appearance of a cord, esp. a tendon or a nerve. See under Spermatic, Spinal, Umbilical, Vocal.

(4): (n.) See Chord.

(5): (n.) A string, or small rope, composed of several strands twisted together.

(6): (v. t.) To arrange (wood, etc.) in a pile for measurement by the cord.

(7): (imp. & p. p.) of Core

(8): (v. t.) To bind with a cord; to fasten with cords; to connect with cords; to ornament or finish with a cord or cords, as a garment.

Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words [6]

1: Σχοινίον (Strong'S #4979 — Noun Neuter — schoinion — skhoy-nee'-on )

"a cord or rope," a diminutive of schoinos, "a rush, bulrush," meant a "cord" made of rushes; it denotes (a) "a small cord,"  John 2:15 (plural), (b) "a rope,"   Acts 27:32 . See Rope.

Easton's Bible Dictionary [7]

 Exodus 35:18 39:40 Isaiah 5:18 Judges 15:13 Psalm 2:3 129:4 2 Samuel 82;2 Psalm 78:55 Job 4:21 Lamentations 2:8 Proverbs 5:22 Ecclesiastes 4:12 Hosea 11:4 Isaiah 5:18

Smith's Bible Dictionary [8]

Cord. The materials of which cord was made varied according to the strength required; the strongest rope was probably made of strips of camel hide, as still used by the Bedouins. The finer sorts were made of flax,  Isaiah 19:9, and probably of reeds and rushes. In the New Testament, the term is applied to the whip which our Saviour made,  John 2:15, and to the ropes of a ship.  Acts 27:32.

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [9]

the rendering in the Auth. Ver. of the following Hebrew words:

(1.)' usually חֶבֶל , che'bel (but not חֵבֶל ), a rope, (See Chebel);

(2.) יֶתֶר , Ye - Her , a straw ("withe,"  Judges 16:7-9; tent-rope, "excellency,"  Job 4:21; bow-"string,"  Psalms 11:2; halter-"cord,"  Job 30:11);

(3.) מֵיתָר , Meythar , a line (e.g. tentrope,  Exodus 35:18;  Exodus 39:40;  Numbers 3:26;  Numbers 3:37;  Numbers 4:26;  Numbers 4:32;  Isaiah 54:2.;  Jeremiah 10:20; bow- "string,"  Psalms 21:12);

(4.) עֲבֹת , aboth', a braid (e.g. "wreathed" work,  Exodus 28:14, etc.; "band,"  Job 39:10;  Ezekiel 3:25;  Ezekiel 4:8;  Hosea 11:4; "rope,"  Judges 15:13-14;  Psalms 2:3;  Psalms 118:27;  Psalms 124:4);

(5.) חוּט , chut ( Ecclesiastes 4:12, a "thread,"  Genesis 14:23;  Joshua 2:18;  Judges 16:12;  Song of Solomon 4:3; "line,"  1 Kings 7:15; "fillet,"  Jeremiah 52:21). The first of these terms is the most comprehensive, being from the root חָבִל , to Twist , hence Engl. Cable . This word occurs often in its proper sense, as well as in the special meanings of measuring-line (hence also region), snare ( Psalms 140:5), and bridle. In  Micah 2:5, it signifies "portion" (as it is frequently rendered elsewhere); and the phrase "cast a cord" denotes a change of inheritance, as in  Micah 2:4. The same word has the secondary sense of a band of men ( 1 Samuel 10:5;  1 Samuel 10:10), and destruction ( Micah 2:10). (See Rope). "In the N.T. the term Σχοινία is applied to the whip which our Savior made ( John 2:15), and to the ropes' of a ship ( Acts 27:32). Alford understands it in the former passage of the rushes on which the cattle were littered; but the ordinary rendering cords seems more consistent with the use of the term elsewhere. (See below.)

"The materials of which cord was made varied according to the strength required; the strongest rope was probably made of strips of camel hide, still used by the Bedouins for drawing water (Burckhardt's Notes, 1:46); the Egyptians twisted these strips together into thongs for sandals and other purposes (Wilkinson, Anc. Egypt. 3. 145). The finer sorts were made of flax ( Isaiah 19:9). The fibre of the date-palm was also used (Wilkinson, 3. 210); and probably reeds and rushes of various kinds, as implied in the origin of the word Σχοινίον (Pliny 19:9), which is generally used by the Sept. for חֶבֶל , and more particularly in the word "( אִגְמוֹן , rush ( Job 41:2), which primarily means a reed; in the Talmud (Erubin, fol. 58), bulrushes, osier, and flax are enumerated as the materials of which rope was made; in the Mishna (Sotah, 1, § 6) the חבל מצרי , or Egyptian rope, is explained as A Rope Of Vines Or Osiers . (See Mechanic).

"Of the various purposes to which cord, including under that term rope, and twisted thongs, was applied, the following are especially worthy of notice:

(1.) For fastening a tent, in which sense מֵיתָר , Meythar , is more particularly used (e.g.  Exodus 35:18;  Exodus 39:40;  Isaiah 54:2). As the tent supplied a favorite image of the human body, the cords which held it in its place represented the principle of life ( Job 4:21): Are not their tent cords (A.V. excellency') torn away?' ( Ecclesiastes 12:6).

(2.) For leading or binding animals, as a halter or rein ( Psalms 118:27;  Hosea 11:4), whence to loosen the cord' ( Job 30:11) = to free from authority.

(3.) For yoking them either to a cart ( Isaiah 5:18) or a plough ( Job 39:10).

(4.) For binding prisoners, more particularly עֲבֹת , aboth' ( Judges 15:13;  Psalms 2:3;  Psalms 129:4;  Ezekiel 3:25), whence the metaphorical expression bands of love' ( Hosea 11:4).

(5.) For bow-strings ( Psalms 11:2), made of catgut; such are spoken of in  Judges 16:7 ( יְתָרַים לִחַים , A. V. green withs;' but more properly Νευραὶ Ὑγραί , fresh or moist bow-strings).

(6.) For the ropes or tacklings' of a vessel ( Isaiah 33:23).

(7.) For measuring ground, the full expression being חֶבֶל מַדָּה ( 2 Samuel 8:2;  Psalms 78:55;  Amos 7:17;  Zechariah 2:1); hence to cast a cord' to assign a property ( Micah 2:5), and cord or line became an expression for an inheritance ( Joshua 17:14;  Joshua 19:9;  Psalms 16:6;  Ezekiel 47:13), and even for any defined district (e.g. the line, or tract, Of Argob ,  Deuteronomy 3:4). (See Chebel).

(8.) For fishing and snaring. (See Fishing); (See Fowling); (See Hunting).

(9.) For attaching articles of dress; as the wreathen chains ( עֲבֹת ), which were rather twisted cords, worn by the high-priests ( Exodus 28:14;  Exodus 28:22;  Exodus 28:24;  Exodus 39:15;  Exodus 39:17).

(10.) For fastening awnings ( Esther 1:6).

(11.) For attaching to a plummet. The line and plummet are emblematic of a regular rule ( 2 Kings 21:13;  Isaiah 28:17); hence to destroy by line and plummet ( Isaiah 34:11;  Lamentations 2:8;  Amos 7:7) has been understood as a regular systematic destruction ( Ad Normam Et Libellam , Gesenius, Thesaur. p. 125); it may, however, be referred to the carpenter's level, which can only be used on a flat surface (comp. Thenius, Comm. in  2 Kings 21:13).

(12.) For drawing water out of a well, or raising heavy weights ( Joshua 2:15;  Jeremiah 38:6;  Jeremiah 38:13).

(13.) To place a rope on the head ( 1 Kings 20:31) in place of the ordinary head-dress was a sign of abject submission"

(14.) The "small cords" ( Σχοινίον , a rush-rope) used by our Savior in expelling the traders from the Temple ( John 2:15) were probably the same used for leading the animals for sacrifice and binding them to the altar ( עֲבֹת ,  Psalms 118:27).

(15.) The same word is employed in  Acts 27:32, "ropes," i.e. cordage, with which the yawl-boats were secured to the ship (q.v.). (See Rush).

Among the figurative uses of the word the following are the most striking:

(1.) To gird one's self with a cord was considered a token of sorrow and humiliation ( 1 Kings 20:31-33;  Job 36:8).

(2.) To stretch a line or cord about a city signifies to ruin it, to destroy it entirely, and to level it with the ground ( Lamentations 2:8).

(3.) The cords ( מֵיתָר ) extended in setting up tents furnish several metaphors in the prophetical books ( Isaiah 33:20;  Jeremiah 10:20).

(4.) Hence to "loose one's cord" was a metaphor for dissolving one's comfort and hopes ( יֶתֶר , Ye'Ther , elsewhere "withe").

(5.) The cords of sin" ( Proverbs 5:22), metaphorically speaking, are the consequences of crimes and bad habits.

(6.) The "silver cord" (i.e. composed of silvery threads,  Ecclesiastes 12:6) is generally supposed to refer to the spinal marrow, to which, as to its form and color, it may not be inaptly compared.

(7.) A "three-fold cord" (i.e. one of treble strands) is put as the symbol of union ( Ecclesiastes 4:12, חוּט , Chut , elsewhere "thread").

(8.) The "cords of a man," in  Hosea 11:4, are immediately explained as meaning "the bands of love," although some interpreters join this clause to the preceding sentence, and render it "amid the Desolations of men," referring to the plagues of Egypt (Horsley, in loc.). (See Line). For Cords Of Sheol , (See Snares Of Death).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [10]

kôrd ( חבל , ḥebhel , יתר , yether , מיתר , mēthār , עבת , ‛ăbhōth  ; σχοινίον , schoinı́on ):

(1) The Arabic ḥab ' l corresponds to the Hebrew ḥebhel and is still the common name for cord or rope throughout the East. Such ropes or cords are made of goat's or camel's hair, first spun into threads and then twisted or plaited into the larger and stronger form. Ḥebhel is translated rather inconsistently in the Revised Version (British and American) by "cord" ( Joshua 2:15;  Job 36:8 , etc.); by "line" ( 2 Samuel 8:2;  Micah 2:5;  Psalm 16:6;  Psalm 78:55;  Amos 7:17;  Zechariah 2:1 ); by "ropes" ( 1 Kings 20:31 ), and by "tacklings" ( Isaiah 33:23 ).

(2) Yether corresponds to the Arabic wittar , which means catgut. With a kindred inconsistency it is translated the Revised Version (British and American) by "withes" ( Judges 16:7 the Revised Version, margin "bowstring"); by "cord" (  Job 30:11 ), where some think it may mean "bowstring," or possibly "rein" of a bridle, and by "bowstring" ( Psalm 11:2 ), doubtless the true meaning.

(3) Mēthār is considered the equivalent of Arabic aṭnâb , which means tent ropes, being constantly so used by the Bedouin. They make the thing so called of goat's or camel's hair. It is used of the "cords" of the tabernacle ( Jeremiah 10:20 ), of the "cords" of the "hangings" and "pillars" of the courts of the tabernacle in Exodus and Numbers, and figuratively by Isa ( Isaiah 54:2 ), "Lengthen thy cords," etc.

(4) ‛Ǎbhōth is thought to have its equivalent in the Arabic rŭbŭts , which means a band, or fastening. See Band . It is translated by "cords" in  Psalm 118:27;  Psalm 129:4; by "bands" in  Ezekiel 3:25;  Job 39:10;  Hosea 11:4; by "ropes" in  Judges 15:13 ,  Judges 15:14 , and by "cart rope" in  Isaiah 5:18 . See Cart . See also  Numbers 15:38 and Amulet . It Seems to have the meaning of something twisted or interlaced.

(5) In the New Testament "cord" is found in  John 2:15 , translating schoinion , but in  Acts 27:32 the same Greek word is rendered "ropes."

Figurative: (1) of affliction (  Job 36:8 ); (2) of God's laws ( Psalm 2:3 ); (3) of the artifices of the wicked ( Psalm 129:4;  Psalm 140:5 ); (4) of sinful habits ( Proverbs 5:22 ); (5) of true friendship or companionship ( Ecclesiastes 4:12 ); (6) possibly of the spinal cord ( Ecclesiastes 12:6 ); (7) of falsehood ( Isaiah 5:18 ); (8) of the spirit of enterprise and devotion ( Isaiah 54:2 ); (9) of God's gentleness.