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Of five Hebrew originals the chief is Tobh, "good," expressing quality, character. Variously used of objects pleasing to the senses, feelings, mind, moral sense, e.g. "best of the land" (Ge 47:6); "of sheep" (1Sa 15:9); of persons "married to whom they think best" (Nu 36:6); of abode, "where it liketh (the Revised Version (British and American) "pleaseth") him best" (De 23:16).

In Nu 18:12 the revenues of the priests were to be "holy gifts," e.g. the "best of the oil," etc. (chelebh, "fat"); also 18:29,30,32, the gifts of the heave-offering were to be "of all the best," indicating that the richest elements of life were to go into the support and service of the sanctuary. So "the choice (best) fruits" (zimrah, literally, "the song of the land"), a beautifully poetic expression for the most celebrated fruits (Ge 43:11); equally choice is pazaz, "separate," "the finest (best) gold," hence "purified" (1Ki 10:18).

Used but twice in the New Testament:

(1) of spiritual gifts ((kreitton, "better" the Revised Version (British and American) "greater"); 1Co 12:31);

(2) of raiment (protos, "first"), "best robe" (Lu 15:22), of special significance as expressing the Father’s lavish love for the repentant and returning sinner.

Dwight M. Pratt