Iniquity

In the Old Testament of the 11 words translated "iniquity," by far the most common and important is `awon (about 215 times). Etymologically, it is customary to explain it as meaning literally "crookedness," "perverseness," i.e. evil regarded as that which is not straight or upright, moral distortion (from `iwwah, "to bend," "make crooked," "pervert"). Driver, however (following Lagarde), maintains that two roots, distinct in Arabic, have been confused in Hebrew, one equals "to bend," "pervert" (as above), and the other equals "to err," "go astray"; that `awon is derived from the latter, and consequently expresses the idea of error, deviation from the right path, rather than that of perversion (Driver, Notes on Sam, 135 note) Whichever etymology is adopted, in actual usage it has three meanings which almost imperceptibly pass into each other:

(1) iniquity,

(2) guilt of iniquity,

(3) punishment of iniquity.


Other words frequently translated "iniquity" are: ’awen, literally, "worthlessness," "vanity," hence, "naughtiness," "mischief" (47 times in the King James Version, especially in the phrase "workers of iniquity," Job 4:8; Ps 5:5; 6:8; Pr 10:29, etc.); `awel and `awlah, literally, "perverseness" (De 32:4; Job 6:29 the King James Version, etc.).

In the New Testament "iniquity" stands for anomia equals properly, "the condition of one without law," "lawlessness" (so translated in 1 Joh 3:4, elsewhere "iniquity," e.g. Mt 7:23), a word which frequently stood for `awon in the Septuagint; and adikia, literally, "unrighteousness" (e.g. Lu 13:27).

D. Miall Edwards

See also

  • Sin