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Eunuchs had many roles in the ancient world. They served in the royal court as cooks, scribes, guards of the harem, and ambassadors. The Hebrew word for “eunuch” usually refers to a castrated man, though it does not always do so (see Gen. 39:1).

Anointed with oil

Kings, priests, and prophets were sometimes anointed with oil as a sign that God had set them apart for a special purpose (see 1 Sam. 15:1; Lev. 8:30). More commonly, oil was used in cooking and to clean and moisturize the body (see Deut. 28:40; 2 Sam. 14:2).

Was it Joram or Jehoram?

Was it Joram or Jehoram? At about the same time, Israel had a king named Joram who was sometimes called Jehoram, while Judah had a king named Jehoram who was sometimes called Joram. King Joram of Israel was a son of Ahab while King Jehoram of Judah married a daughter of Ahab.

What is a siege?

What is a siege? In ancient times, a “siege” occurred when an enemy army surrounded a city and de­­manded that it surrender. If the city refused, the invaders cut off food and water supplies and attempted to tear down the city’s defensive walls. Cities usually surrendered when they ran out of water. Those who fought […]

Who was Rimmon?

Who was Rimmon? Rimmon was another name for the Syrian god Baal-hadad. Known as the storm god, he was depicted as a bearded deity holding a club and thunderbolt. He was considered the most powerful god in the Syrian religion.

Wild gourds

The wild gourds gathered by the prophet (4:38–41) were poisonous. The prophet, of course, did not realize this. He added the gourds to the stew, “not knowing what they were” (4:39).

The Moabite Stone

The Moabite Stone is a small monument inscribed with details about the conflict between the Israelites and the Moabites (3:4–27). Written by the Moabites, it emphasizes their victories over Israel. More importantly, it features the earliest known reference to the Lord’s personal name (YHWH; see note on Gen. 2:4) outside of the Bible.


Though bears no longer live in the region of Palestine, the bear God used to punish the disrespectful boys (2:24) was probably of a type that could grow up to 7 feet (2 m) tall and reach 500 pounds (227 kg).