Breast

BREAST (חָזֶה, H2601, breast of animals, the forepart of the body; שַׁד, H8716, breast of a woman or female animal; Gr. στη̂θος, G5111, chest; μαστός, G3466, upper or female breast.)

It should be noted that “breast” has a twofold meaning. It may refer to the entire anterior aspect of the chest—the portion of the body between the neck and abdomen. As such it has both resilience and strength and gives indispensable protection to the vital organs of heart and lungs, lying directly back of it.

Frequently, however, “breast” refers only to the mammae (paps).

It often is used fig. to refer to the seat of thoughts, feelings, affection, courage and spirit.

In Ezekiel 23:34 the anguish of the people in parting with their cherished sins is spoken of as “tearing your breasts.” Royalty and glory are pictured in Revelation 15:6 when the writer speaks of angels with their “breasts girded with golden girdles.” The feeling of close comradeship and love is denoted when John writes of himself as lying close to the breast of Jesus (John 13:23).

Physical attraction is the emphasis in Proverbs 5:19 (KJV) with the expression, “Let her breast satisfy thee at all times.” Solomon’s lover may have been proud of the size of her breasts when she says “my breasts were like towers” Song of Solomon.

The breast is mentioned frequently in Levitical laws pertaining to sacrifices, as in Leviticus 7:31—“The breast shall be for Aaron and his sons.”

Complete victory over Israel’s enemies is promised in the prophecy, “You shall suck the milk of nations, you shall suck the breast of kings” (Isa 60:16).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)


See Wave Offering.

Figurative: "The breasts of virginity," pressed and bruised (Eze 23:3,8 the King James Version), indicative of Ezekiel’s belief that Israel practiced idolatry in Egypt (compare Eze 20:8). "To tear (pluck off) thy breasts" (Eze 23:34) denotes the anguish of the people in parting with their beloved sin (compare Ho 2:2). "Its breast of silver" (Da 2:32) is possibly expressive of the humanity and wealth of the Medo-Persian empire.

Frank E. Hirsch