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WEST (Heb. yām, sea, māvô’, setting of the sun, ma‘ărāv, west, Gr. dysmē). Yām, “sea,” is the Hebrew word usually used for “west,” because the Mediterranean Sea lies to the west of Palestine. The word is sometimes used figuratively with “east” to denote great distance (Ps.103.12).

WEST. For any nation occupying a Palestinian homeland the W has a threefold significance. (1) It is the direction in which the sun sets; hence Heb. מָבוֹא, H4427, sunset, Gr. δυσμή, G1553, for W. (2) It is the direction in which the sea lies; hence Heb. יָם, H3542, sea, also used for W. (3) In consequence, it is also the direction from which come the rain-bearing winds. Thus in Luke 12:54 a westerly wind is commonly agreed to augur the onset of rain; cf. Elijah’s experience on Mt. Carmel (1 Kings 18:44).

Ceremonially, the W was neither more nor less important than other compass points in the life of Israel, most Biblical layouts being based on the “foursquare” pattern, in which people or structures surrounded a focal point.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

(1) Usually (yam), "sea" because the Mediterranean lies to the West of Palestine; not usually in figurative expressions; but compare Ho 11:10.

(2) Often (ma`arabh); compare Arabic (gharb), and (maghrib), "west" (maghrib-ush-shems), or simply (maghrib), "sunset."

(3) (mebho’ ha-chemesh), "entrance of the sun," (mabho’, bo’), "to come in." (Just as mizrach, is the rising of the sun, or east, so mabho’ (or ma’arabh], is the setting of the sun, or west: "From the rising of the sun (mizrach-shemesh) unto the going down (mabho) thereof" (Ps 50:1; compare 113:3; Mal 1:11).)

(4) (dusme, from duo), "to enter," "sink," "set." The Greek usage is parallel to the Hebrew just cited: "Many shall come from the east anatole, "rising") and the west" (dusme, "setting") (Mt 8:11).

The chief figurative use of the word "west" is in combination with "east" to denote great or infinite distance, as:

"As far as the east is from the west,

So far hath he removed our transgressions

us" (Ps 103:12).

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