Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary


Religion, Old Testament Studies PhD

First Advisor

Richard M. Davidson

Second Advisor

Gerhard F. Hasel

Third Advisor

William H. Shea


Problem. The Hebrew roots hll and tm' have been translated interchangeably by desecration or defilement. Since the root hll is used in opposition to the root qds, while tm' stands in opposition to thr, it remained to be investigated whether their equation is justified because they appear in parallel or whether they should be visualized as belonging to two different realms and having different meanings.

Method. My approach was basically a synchronical word study. All the appearances of the roots hll and tm' in the OT were analyzed. The roots hnp and g'l as well as some secondary roots related to the subject were also investigated. Consideration was given to texts where the idea of desecration or defilement was present although the terminology was absent. The literature of the ancient Near Eastern cultures was investigated to establish to what extent their concepts of desecration and defiliment were similar or not to those of Israel.

Results. This investigation showed that the ancient Near Eastern cultures had a developed concept ot defilement, recognized by the emphasis placed on purification. Their idea of holiness, however, lacks the majestic dimension that is found in Israel. As a result, their concept of desecration was limited to its taboo dimension.

The study of the Hebrew roots hll, tm', and other secondary roots revealed that they are used for different purposes in the OT. Textual evidence shows that the biblical writer moves from hll to tm' depending on the object visualized or the emphasis intended. While holy tangible realities may be desecrated and defiled, intangible realities such as the Sabbath, the Name, and Yahweh are not affected by defiliment. hll knows no sources of uncleanness as is the case of tm'. hll action deprives something or someone of holiness, while tm' adds to them a defiling dimension. While hll may have Yahweh as subject or object, tm' acts have no effect on Him, neither does He perform tm' activity.

Conclusion. The roots hll and tm' have different meanings in the OT, and their equation does not seem justified. Consequently hll should be rendered basically by desecration, while tm' by defilement.

Subject Area

Sacrilege, Offenses against religion.

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