PESTILENCE (pĕs'tĭlĕns, Heb. dever, Gr. loimos). In the OT (kjv 47 vv.; niv 4 vv.), any fatal epidemic, often the result of divine judgment (
PESTILENCE (דֶּ֫בֶר, H1822; λοιμός, G3369, plague). The Heb. word דֶּ֫בֶר, H1822, usually tr. “pestilence,” is found forty-nine times in the OT. It occurs in company with such words as famine, blood, wild beasts and death.
The first occurrence of the term is in connection with the plagues on Egypt (
In David’s day, a pestilence was sent on Israel for three days as a result of David’s sin in the numbering of the people. In that short time it claimed the lives of 70,000 people. David had chosen this judgment over war or famine, desiring to be at God’s mercy. This would indicate that pestilence was always understood as an affliction coming directly from the hand of God (
Pestilence was so feared by the people that Solomon prayed for relief from it before it should come on Israel (
In the prophecy of Jeremiah, the word occurs seventeen times and in Ezekiel, twelve times, as a punishment threatened on Israel and Judah for their sin against God. Repeatedly in these texts, it is referred to as a punishment from God for their rebellion. Jeremiah declares that those of Jerusalem who did not go into captivity would die by the pestilence.
The other word for pestilence in the NT is λοιμός, G3369, a word used by Jesus to foretell the events and occurrences before His return to the earth in the last days (
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
The Latin word pestilentia is connected with pestis, "the plague," but pestilence is used of any visitation and is not the name of any special disease; debher is applied to diseases of cattle and is translated "murrain."