pe'-p'-l: In English Versions of the Bible represents something over a dozen Hebrew and Greek words. Of these, in the Old Testament, `am, is overwhelmingly the most common (about 2,000 times), with le'om, and goy, next in order; but the various Hebrew words are used with very little or no difference in force (e.g. Pr 14:28; but, on the other hand, in Ps 44:1-26 contrast verses Ps 12:1-8 and Ps 14:1-7). Of the changes introduced by the Revised Version (British and American) the only one of significance (cited explicitly in the Preface to the English Revised Version) is the frequent use of the plural "peoples" (strangely avoided in the King James Version except Re 10:11; 17:15), where other nations than Israel are in question. So, for instance, in Ps 67:4; Isa 55:4; 60:2, with the contrast marked in Ps 33:10 and Ps 12:1-8; 77:14 and Ps 15:1-5, etc. In the New Testament, laos, is the most common word, with ochlos, used almost as often in the King James Version. But in the Revised Version (British and American) the latter word is almost always rendered "multitude," "people" being retained only in Lu 7:12; Ac 11:24,26; 19:26, and in the fixed phrase "the common people" (ho polus ochlos) in Mr 12:37; Joh 12:9,12 margin (the retention of "people" would have been better in Joh 11:42, also), with "crowd" (Mt 9:23,25; Ac 21:35). The only special use of "people" that calls for attention is the phrase "people of the land." This may mean simply "inhabitants," as Eze 12:19; 33:2; 39:13; but in 2Ki 11:14, etc., and the parallel in 2 Chronicles, it means the people as contrasted with the king, while in Jer 1:18, etc., and in Eze 7:27; 22:29; 46:3,9, it means the common people as distinguished from the priests and the aristocracy. A different usage is that for the heathen (Ge 23:7,12-13; Nu 14:9) or half-heathen (Ezr 9:1-2; 10:2,11; Ne 10:28-31) inhabitants of Palestine. From this last use, the phrase came to be applied by some rabbis to even pure-blooded Jews, if they neglected the observance of the rabbinic traditions (compare Joh 7:49 the King James Version). For "people of the East" see CHILDREN OF THE EAST.
Burton Scott Easton