SHAME (בּוֹשׁ, H1017, בֹּ֫שֶׁת, H1425; αἰσχύνη, G158; and other Heb. and Gr. words). The word shame occurs in the RSV over 150 times. It is coupled with defeat, reproach, nakedness, folly, contempt, poverty, unseemliness, cruelty, and nothingness. It is a debasing emotion arising from a consciousness of impropriety, offense, injured reputation, hurt pride, or guilt. In most Biblical references it is associated with religion, with only a few instances relating to social prestige. While there are many aspects to shame, two classifications are comprehensive.
Sin is the primary source of all shame, expressing itself through various media. Scripturally, the first of these is nakedness, having a dualistic meaning—physical and spiritual. In their primordial state “the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed” (
Wicked and rude people may cause shame to those of nobler nature. David’s goodwill servants “were greatly ashamed” by the humiliating treatment given them by the Ammonite king, Hanun (
Shame is a component of divine judgment on sin. It is therefore an instrument to be dreaded, and also one to employ against an enemy.
The Hebrews delighted in the shame of the ungodly. “Let the godless be put to shame” (
The worst that a Heb. could wish on his enemy was that he be put to shame. It was often invoked, sometimes coupled with another curse: “shame and dishonor”; “shame and confusion”; “put to shame and consumed” (
Mould, Bible History (1966), 25, 518-524, 595f., 667f.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
On conditions beyond the grave the Biblical revelation is exceedingly reticent, but here and there are hints that shame waits upon the wicked here and hereafter. Such an expression as that in Daniel (12:2) cannot be ignored, and though the writing itself may belong to a late period and a somewhat sophisticated theological development, the idea is but a reflection of the earlier and more elementary period, when the voice of crime and cruelty went up from earth to be heard in the audience chamber of God (
Charles M. Stuart