Pining Sickness

pin'-ing, sik'-nes: In the account of the epileptic boy in Mr 9:18 it is said that "he pineth away." The verb used here (xeraino) means "to dry up," and is the same which is used of the withering of plants, but seldom used in this metaphorical sense. The English word is from the Anglo-Saxon pinjan and is often found in the Elizabethan literature, occurring 13 times in Shakespeare. In the Old Testament it is found in Le 26:39 (bis) and in Eze 24:23 and Eze 33:10. In the Revised Version (British and American) it replaces "consume" in Eze 4:17. In all these passages it is the rendering of the Hebrew maqaq, and means expressly being wasted on account of sin. In Le 26:16 "pine away" is used in the Revised Version (British and American) to replace "cause sorrow of heart," and is the translation of the Hebrew dubh; and in De 28:65 "sorrow of mind" is also replaced in the Revised Version (British and American) by "pining of soul," the word so rendered being de'abhon, which in these two passages is expressive of homesickness. In Isa 24:16 the reduplicated exclamation, "my leanness," of the King James Version is changed into "I pine away," the word being razi. The starving people in La 4:9 are said to pine away, the word so translated being zubh. All these Hebrew words have a general meaning of to dry or to waste or wear away, or to be exhausted by morbid discharges.

Pining sickness in Isa 38:12 the King James Version is a mistranslation, the word so rendered, dallah, meaning here the thrum by which the web is tied to the loom. The figure in the verse is that Hezekiah's life is being removed from the earth by his sickness as the web is removed from the loom by having the thrums cut, and being then rolled up. Both the King James Version margin and the Revised Version margin have the correct reading, "from the thrum." Septuagint has erithou eggizouses ektemein, and Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) dum adhuc ordirer, succidit me. The other reading is due to another interpretation of the word which in a few passages, as Jer 52:15, like its root dal, means something small, poor, and decaying or weak, such as the lean kine of Pharaoh's dream (Ge 41:19).

Alexander Macalister

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