(saphah, sepheth, "lip," "language," "speech," "talk" (also "rim," "border," "shore," "bank," etc.), sapham, "(upper) lip," "moustache," "beard"; cheilos, "lip" (also once, "shore" in the quotation Heb 11:12 = Ge 22:17)): (1) Lips stand in oriental idiom for speech or language, like "mouth," "tongue"; therefore they stand in parallelism. "The lip of truth shall be established for ever; but a lying tongue is but for a moment" (Pr 12:19). "To shoot out the lip" (Ps 22:7) means to make a mocking, contemptuous, scornful face. As the lips are the chief instrument of speech, we find numerous idiomatic phrases for "speaking," such as: "the utterance of the lips" (Nu 30:6,8), "to proceed out of the lips" (Nu 30:12), "to open the lips" (Job 32:20), "to go out of the lips" (Ps 17:1). These expressions do not convey, as a rule, the idea that the utterance proceeds merely out of the lips, and that it lacks sincerity and the consent of the heart, but occasionally this is intended, e.g. "This people draw nigh unto me, and with their mouth and with their lips do honor me, but have removed their heart far from me" (Isa 29:13; compare Mt 15:8). The "fruit of the lips" (Isa 57:19 = Heb 13:15) and "calves of the lips" (Ho 14:2 the King James Version) designate the praise and thanksgiving due to God. "Fervent (the King James Version "burning") lips" (Pr 26:23) are synonymous with eloquence. "To refrain the lips" (Ps 40:9; Pr 10:19) means to keep silence, where the godless or unwise would wish to assert his rights.

See the definition of lip in the KJV Dictionary

Numerous other expressions need no further explanation, such as "perverse lips" (Pr 4:24), "uncircumcised lips" (Ex 6:12,30), "feigned lips" (Ps 17:1), "lying lips" (Ps 31:18; Pr 10:18; 12:22), "wicked (or false) lips" (Pr 17:4), "unclean lips" (Isa 6:5), "strange (the King James Version "stammering") lips" (Isa 28:11), "flattering lips" (Ps 12:2-3; Pr 7:21), "righteous lips" (Pr 16:13).

(2) The Hebrew word sapham is found only in the phrase "to cover the lip or lips," which is an expression of mourning, submission and shame. The Oriental covers his lips with his hand or a portion of his garment, when he has been sunk into deep grief and sorrow. He expresses, thereby, that he cannot open his mouth at the visitation of God. Differently, however, from common mourners, Ezekiel was forbidden of God "to cover his lips" (Eze 24:17; see also Eze 24:22), i.e. to mourn in the usual way over Israel's downfall, as Israel had brought these judgments upon himself. The leper, victim of an incurable disease, walks about with rent clothes and hair disheveled, covering his lips, crying: "Unclean, unclean!" (Le 13:45). The thought here is that even the breath of such a one may defile. The prophet calls upon all seers and diviners, to whom God has refused the knowledge of the future, to cover their lips in shame and confusion (Mic 3:7).

See also the McClintock and Strong Biblical Cyclopedia.

H. L. E. Luering

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