Vessel - Vine's Expository Dictionary of Old Testament Words

Usage Number: 1
Strong's Number: H3627
Original Word: kelî

Usage Notes: "vessel; receptacle; stuff; clothing; utensil; tool; instrument; ornament or jewelry; armor or weapon; male sex organ." A cognate to this word appears in Akkadian. Kelî appears in biblical Hebrew about 320 times and in all periods. This word is used of "receptacles" of various kinds used for storing and transporting. Thus, Jacob said to Laban: "Whereas thou hast searched through all my stuff [literally, receptacles], what hast thou found of all thy household stuff [literally, from all the receptacles of thy house]?" (Gen. 31:37). Such "receptacles" may be made of wood (Lev. 11:32) or potsherd or clay (Lev. 6:28). They may be used to hold documents (Jer. 32:14), wine, oil, fruits (Jer. 40:10), food (Ezek. 4:9), beverage (Ruth 2:9), or bread (1 Sam. 9:7). Even a shepherd's bag is a kelî (1 Sam. 17:40). In 1 Sam. 17:22 the word is used of baggage, or "receptacles" (his shepherd's bag?) and what is in them: "And David left his carriage in the hand of the [baggage keeper] …." The sailors on the ship in which Jonah sailed "cast forth the wares [cargo] … into the sea, to lighten it of them" (Jon. 1:5).

Ships are called "receptacles", presumably because they can hold people: "That sendeth ambassadors by the sea, even in vessels of bulrushes upon the waters …" (Isa. 18:2). Kelî can mean "clothing": "The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God" (Deut. 22:5).

The word may be used of various "vessels and utensils": "And the four tables were of hewn stone for the burnt offering …: whereupon also they laid the instruments wherewith they slew the burnt offering and the sacrifice" (Ezek. 40:42). In Gen. 45:20 this word refers to movable but large possessions: Pharaoh told Joseph to tell his brothers to take wagons and bring their family to Egypt, and "regard not your stuff; for the good of all the land of Egypt is yours." Thus in Exod. 27:19 the word represents all the furniture and utensils of the tabernacle (cf. Num. 3:8). Samuel warned Israel that the king on whom they insisted would organize them into levees (work crews) "to [plow] his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots" (1 Sam. 8:12). More narrowly, kelî may be used of oxen harnesses: " …Behold, here be oxen for burnt sacrifice, and threshing instruments and other instruments of the oxen for wood" (2 Sam. 24:22).

This word may be used of various "implements or tools": "Simeon and Levi are brethren; instruments of cruelty are in their habitations" (Gen. 49:5). In Jer. 22:7 the word represents "tools" with which trees may be cut down: "And I will prepare destroyers against thee, every one with his weapons: and they shall cut down thy choice cedars, and cast them into the fire." Isaac told Esau to take his gear, his quiver, and his bow, "and go out to the field, and take me some venison" (Gen. 27:3).

Weapons for war are called "implements": "And they [the Israelites] went after them unto Jordan: and, lo, all the way was full of garments and vessels, which the Syrians had cast away in their haste" (2 Kings 7:15). A bearer of implements is an armor-bearer (Judg. 9:54). A house of arms or an armory is referred to in 2 Kings 20:13.

In Amos 6:5 and such passages (2 Chron. 5:13; 2 Chron. 7:6; 2 Chron. 23:13; cf. Psa. 71:22) "musical instruments" are called kelîm: "That chant to the sound of the viol, and invent to themselves instruments of music…."

Kelî stands for various kinds of "precious ornaments": "And the servant brought forth jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment, and gave them to Rebekah …" (Gen. 24:53, the first biblical appearance of the word). Such "precious ornaments" adorned the typical bride: "I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels" (Isa. 61:10). In 1 Sam. 21:5 kelî may refer to the "male sex organ." This certainly makes more sense than if the word is rendered "vessels," since the matter under discussion is the ritualistic purity of David's men: "Of a truth women have been kept from us about these three days, since I came out, and the vessels [sex organs] of the young men are holy…."

Vine's Expository Dictionary of Old Testament Words