Semantic Word Games
by Rod Jackson

All verses are quoted from the NASB anything in [square brackets] is added by me for clarity. Strong's numbers are preceded by a hash #.

Some people like to play word games and think that the Jewish thought-form, is the same as the western thought-form.

In this article we shall see that the expression the "word of the LORD" and the words "vision" and "dream" are used interchangeably.

"Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the LORD before Eli. And word [#1697] from the LORD was rare in those days, visions [#2377] were infrequent." 1 Samuel 3:1

This is called a parallelism, where the same idea is used twice but totally different words are used to express that though. The expression "word from the LORD was rare" and the expression "visions were infrequent" are expressing the same idea. When Samuel does get a word from the LORD, the bible says -

"So Samuel lay down until morning. Then he opened the doors of the house of the LORD. But Samuel was afraid to tell the vision [#4759a] to Eli." 1 Samuel 3:15

Notice that the word here for "vision" has strong's number #4759a whereas in verse 1 the word vision had strong's number #2377. This means that these two different Hebrew words can be used interchangeably.

In another incident the bible says -

"It came about the same night that the word [#1697] of God came to Nathan, saying," 1 Chronicles 17:3 [cf. 2 Samuel 7:4]

The parallel account in Samuel says the same thing. A few verses later it says referring to this "word of God "

"According to all these words [#1697] and according to all this vision [#2377], so Nathan spoke to David." 1 Chronicles 17:15

Yet in the parallel account it says -

"In accordance with all these words [#1697] and all this vision [#2384], so Nathan spoke to David. " 2 Samuel 7:17

The word for vision in the two verses are different numbers #2377 and #2384 respectively, and hence different words. Also notice that the "word of God" from verse 3 (0r 4 in the Samuel account) is described as a vision in verse 15 (or 17 in the Samuel account).

"Moreover, the word [#1697] of the LORD came to me saying," Ezekiel 7:1

"Indeed, the seller will not regain what he sold as long as they both live; for the vision [#2377] regarding all their multitude will not be averted, nor will any of them maintain his life by his iniquity." Ezekiel 17:13

This same "word [#1697] of the LORD" in verse 1 is described as a "vision" in verse 13.

"Now it came about in the thirtieth year, on the fifth day of the fourth month, while I was by the river Chebar among the exiles, the heavens were opened and I saw visions [#4759a] of God." Ezekiel 1:1

Notice this vision is by the river Chebar.

"the word [#1697] of the LORD came expressly to Ezekiel the priest, son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar; and there the hand of the LORD came upon him.)" Ezekiel 1:3

Now it is described as a word from the LORD, still by the river Chebar.

"And it was like the appearance [#4758] of the vision [#4758] which I saw, like the vision [#4758] which I saw when He came to destroy the city. And the visions [#4759a] were like the vision [#4758] which I saw by the river Chebar; and I fell on my face." Ezekiel 43:3

Now this is a different vision but it was like the one he saw by the river Chebar.

"The vision [#4758] of the evenings and mornings Which has been told is true; But keep the vision [#2377] secret, For it pertains to many days in the future." Daniel 8:26

Here we see two different words used to describe the same vision.

"In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a message [#1697] was revealed to Daniel, who was named Belteshazzar; and the message [#1697] was true and one of great conflict, but he understood the message [#1697] and had an understanding of the vision [#4758]." Daniel 10:1

Another parallelism at the end of this verse.

"However, there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will take place in the latter days. This was your dream [#2439] and the visions [#2376] in your mind while on your bed." Daniel 2:28

Another parallelism with the words "dream" and the word "vision" being used interchangeably.

"It will come about after this That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and daughters will prophesy, Your old men will dream dreams [#2472], Your young men will see visions [#2384]." Joel 2:28

And different words used in this verse! So what do we learn from these different words that are used to describe the same event?

"Remind them of these things, and solemnly charge them in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless and leads to the ruin of the hearers." 2 Timothy 2:14

Sometimes people place too much emphasis on the words used and don't pay enough attention to the obvious meaning of the text.

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