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See also Devotion
DEVOTED (THINGS) (חָרַם, H3049, [verb], חֵ֫רֶם, H3051, [noun], devoted, accursed, to be utterly destroyed). Devoted to the deity either for sacred use or for utter destruction.
This root is used about eighty times in the OT. The verb is usually tr. “utterly destroy” both in KJV and RSV. The tr. “devoted,” though less common, is more expressive of the meaning of the root. In Arab. the word Haram is used for the consecrated area of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. The word harem comes from this root and implies that the quarters of the women in a polygamous society are private and forbidden to outsiders.
The overwhelming usage of the root ḥrm refers to the destruction of the enemy in the total wars commanded in the conquest of Canaan, in the campaign against the Amalekites, and in similar situations. The enemy was put “under the ban,” as it is sometimes expressed. An example is the city of Jericho which was thus devoted. All was to be destroyed except metals which could be purified by fire, for the Lord’s treasury. Thus Achan in violating the ban actually stole from God.
Devoted men are mentioned in
Before one judges Israel too harshly in this, or objects to God’s commandment, he needs to remember first that he in this era has learned again the sad lesson that the most effective war is total war. Aerial bombing spares no one. The enemy in Israel’s day could at least flee. It is a common observation that the culture of the conquered often conquers the victors. God did not want that, but to a degree it happened.
R. de Vaux, AIs, 251-265; G. F. Oehler, Theology of the OT (1883), 81, 82; J. B. Payne, Theology of the Older Testament (1962), 329, 330.