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1. Nāshaq (verb) “kiss,” “touch” (Assyrian n a š â k u; the Syriac word for “kiss” perhaps meant “smell” originally; but the Arab. equivalent means “fasten together,” “arrange in order”). Ezekiel used nāshaq fig. to describe the wings of cherubim “gently touching,” “kissing” each other (3:13; cf.
2. Neshîâh (fem. noun) “kiss”; only twice in the OT (
3. Kataphiléō (verb) “to kiss”; “kiss much”; “kiss again and again”; “kiss tenderly.” This word appears in Plutarch and Josephus; twenty times in the LXX and six times in the NT. The inspired writers employ it to describe (1) the sinful woman kissing the feet of Jesus (
4. Philéō (verb) “love,” “have affection for,” “like”; or “kiss” as a special indication of love. (LXX for three Heb. words.) This verb occurs in Homer, Aeschylus, Herodotus, Xenophon, Pindar, Sophocles, Euripides, Plato, Aristotle, Plutarch, Josephus, and Oracula Sibyllina; it appears thirty times in the LXX and twenty-five times in the NT.
5. Phílēma (neuter noun) “a kiss.” This word has been used since Aeschylus. It occurs in Philo and Josephus; twice in the LXX (
There was also the ceremonial kiss, e.g., Samuel kissed Saul as he anointed him (
One dare not assume amorous overtones in the accounts of David kissing Jonathan (
Raguel wept as he kissed Tobit (
Early Christians adopted the holy kiss (or kiss of love) as a friendly salutation (
It is difficult to establish the link between the (1) kiss of love, and the liturgical (2) kiss of peace. The latter had an established place in public worship after the middle of the 2nd cent. (1) Neophytes were kissed after baptism; (2) penitents, when they were reconciled (cf.
The kiss of peace was observed in the W until the end of the a.d. 1250).. Apparently it was discontinued earlier in the E. In both E and W this custom was replaced by kissing the altar, etc. The practice of kissing relics in the W dates from perhaps the time of Bishop Walter of York (
B. B. Warfield, “The Terminology of Love in the NT,” XVI, PTR (1918), 1ff.; 153ff.; W. Shakespeare, Henry The Fifth (1942), V. ii. 270-306; J. Smith and R. Lee, Handfuls On Purpose, XII (1947), 242; J. Calvin, Commentary on a Harmony of the Evangelists, III (1949), 241; W. G. Scroggie, The Psalms, IV (1951), 198; F. H. Wight, Manners and Customs of Bible Lands (c. 1953), 74; M. Luther, Selected Psalms I, Vol. XII in Works (c. 1955), 83, 89.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
The kiss is common in eastern lands in salutation, etc., on the cheek, the forehead, the beard, the hands, the feet, but not (in Pal) the lips (Cheyne, E B, under the word "Salutations"). In the Bible there is no sure instance of the kiss in ordinary salutation. We have in thenaschaq, "to kiss," used
(2) Of friendship and affection; compare
(3) Of love; compare
(4) Of homage, perhaps; compare
(6) A figurative use may be seen in
(7) In13:13 we have "I could have been content .... to kiss the soles of his feet," and in Ecclesiasticus 29:5, "Till he hath received, he will kiss a man’s hands"--marks of self-humiliation or abasement.