(nabhel, "to fade away," "to be dried up"):

(1) Used figuratively to express leanness of soul, spiritual impotence, a low condition of spiritual life, a lack of moral nourishment: "My heart is smitten like grass, and withereth" (Ps 102:4). The contrasting figure emphasizes this idea: "All my fountains are in thee" (Ps 87:7). Also Ps 1:3, where the freshness and beauty of the righteous man’s life are thus described: "And he shall be like a tree planted by the streams of water, .... whose leaf also doth not wither." In the New Testament xeraino, "to wither," is used to carry out the same idea of moral decay, or malnutrition of soul (Mt 13:6; 21:19).

(2) "Wither" also had a physiological meaning, expressing both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament the idea of bodily impotence, especially, though not exclusively, of the limbs. Jeroboam was struck suddenly with paralysis of the arm, which is said to have "dried up" (1Ki 13:4-6); "probably due to sudden hemorrhage affecting some part of the brain, which may under certain circumstances be only temporary" (HDB, 1-vol, 599). "Their skin cleaveth to their bones; it is withered" (La 4:8).

In the New Testament (Mt 12:10; Mr 3:1; Lu 6:6) "withered hand" was probably our modern "infantile paralysis," which may leave one or more limbs shrunken and powerless without detriment to the general health.