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THRESHOLD (Heb. saph, threshold, entrance, miphtān, threshold, sill). The piece of wood or stone that lies below the bottom of a door and has to be crossed on entering a house. The sill of a doorway, hence the entrance to a building.

THRESHOLD (סַף, H6197, tr. as threshold, gates, posts, door in KJV, but consistently as threshold in RSV, except 2 Chron 23:4; מִפְתָּן, H5159). The stone or wood sill of a doorway, hence the entrance. Foundation sacrifices buried under thresholds confirm that it was often a sacred place.

Judges 19:27 refers to the threshold of a house across which the hands of the slain concubine lay. Zephaniah 2:14 describes the desolation of Nineveh with ravens croaking on the thresholds.

1 Kings 14:17 refers to the death of Jeroboam’s son as the queen crossed the threshold of the palace. Esther 2:21 mentions the plot against Ahasuerus by two eunuchs who guarded the palace threshold.

Other references to the threshold in the OT are to the threshold of the Temple, which was lined with gold (2 Chron 3:7). Priests served as keepers of the threshold (2 Kings 22:4; 25:18), including Levites (2 Chron 34:9), sometimes three in number (Jer 52:24).

The foundations of the threshold of the Temple “shook” when Isaiah had his vision (Isa 6:4). It was a place where God’s glory rested (Ezek 9:3; 10:4) and where the priests worshiped (Ezek 46:2). It figured in Amos’ vision of God (Amos 9:1). Water flowed from the threshold of the Temple in Ezekiel’s vision (Ezek 47:1).

Reference is made to the threshold of Dagon’s temple (1 Sam 5:4, 5). Zephaniah 1:9 may refer to a practice associated with spirits of jumping across a threshold (cf. 1 Sam 5:5), or may be only a reference to those who would mount up a pedestal to worship an idol.


M. S. and J. L. Miller, Encylopedia of Bible Life (1955), 243.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)


See HOUSE, II, 1, (7).

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