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"Compasses" is the Revised Version (British and American) for "compass," mechughah, an instrument for describing a circle: "He marketh it out with the compasses" (Isa 44:13) in making an idol.

The verb "to compass" occurs frequently in the senses of "to surround" and "to go round about," e.g. Ge 2:11, "which compasseth the whole land of Havilah," De 2:1, "We compassed (went around) mount Seir many days"; in Jer 31:22 we have "A new thing on the earth: a woman shall compass a man," the Revised Version (British and American) "encompass"; possibly as a suitor; but more probably as a protector. In those happy days, the protection of women (under God, 31:28) will be sufficient, while the men are at their work; "to encompass" ("The cords of death compassed me" Ps 18:4; "the waves of death," 2Sa 22:5). "To gird" (Isa 50:11 the Revised Version (British and American)); "to lie around," "to be laid around" (Heb 5:2, "compassed with infirmity" (clothed with it); Heb 12:1, "compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses").

In Apocrypha we have "compassed about with yawning darkness" (The Wisdom of Solomon 19:17); "compassed the circuit of heaven" (Ecclesiasticus 24:5); "compassed with pomegranates of gold" (Ecclesiasticus 45:9); "The rainbow compasseth the heaven" (Ecclesiasticus 43:12); the course of the sun (1 Esdras 4:34).

W. L. Walker