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A Compendium of Bible Words


The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (ISBE)
James Orr, M.A., D.D., General Editor - 1915


wid'-o ('almanah; chera): In the Old Testament widows are considered to be under the special care of Yahweh (Psalms 68:5; 146:9; Proverbs 15:25). Sympathetic regard for them comes to be viewed as a mark of true religion (Job 31:16; James 1:27). Deuteronomy is rich in counsel in their behalf (24:17, etc.).

The word is first mentioned in the New Testament in Acts 6:1: "There arose a murmuring of the Grecian Jews against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration." Paul charges that they be particularly cared for, especially those that are "widows indeed," i.e. poor, without support and old (1Timothy 5:2-16). Some try to find proof in this passage of that ecclesiastical order of widows mentioned in post-apostolic writings.


George B. Eager

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary
New York, American Tract society [c1859], Rand, W. W. (William Wilberforce), 1816-1909, ed.


A custom was prevalent in patriarchal times, Genesis 38:1-30, and was afterwards confirmed by the Mosaic law, Deuteronomy 25:5-10, that a widow without children, in order to preserve the family name and inheritance, should marry the brother of her deceased husband; or he failing his nearest kinsman, Ruth 3:12,13 4:1-11 Matthew 22:23-30. The high-priest was forbidden to marry a widow, Leviticus 21:14. The humanity and justice of true religion are shown in the Bible, as might be expected, by numerous indications that God and the friends of God sympathize with the sorrows, supply the wants, and defend the rights of the widow, Exodus 22:22-24 Deuteronomy 16:11 24:17,19 Psalms 68:5 Isaiah 1:17 10:2 Jeremiah 22:3 Matthew 23:14.

The apostolic church was not negligent in providing for widows, Acts 6:1-3 1Timothy 5:16; and James makes this duty an essential part of true piety, James 1:27. Heathenism, on the contrary, makes those who have been slaves to a husband’s caprices during his life, either victims upon the funeral pile at his death, or forlorn and hopeless sufferers under destitution and contempt. The duties of Christian widows are specified in 1Timothy 5:3-16.

Easton Bible Dictionary
M.G. Easton M.A., D.D., published by Thomas Nelson, 1897.


to be treated with kindness (Exodus 22:22; Deuteronomy 14:29; 16:11, 14; 24:17, 19-21; 26:12; 27:19, etc.). In the New Testament the same tender regard for them is inculcated (Acts 6:1-6; 1Timothy 5:3-16) and exhibited.

Smith's Bible Dictionary (1896)


Under the Mosaic dispensation no legal provision was made for the maintenance of widows. They were left dependent partly on the affection of relations, more especially of the eldest son, whose birthright, or extra share of the property, imposed such a duty upon him, and partly on the privileges accorded to other distressed classes, such as a participation in the triennial third tithe, (Deuteronomy 14:29; Deuteronomy 26:12) in leasing, (Deuteronomy 24:19-21) and in religious feasts. (Deuteronomy 16:11,14) With regard to the remarriage of widows, the only restriction imposed by the Mosaic law had reference to the contingency of one being left childless in which case the brother of the deceased husband had a right to marry the widow. (Deuteronomy 25:5,6; Matthew 22:23-30) In the apostolic Church the widows were sustained at the public expense, the relief being daily administered in kind, under the superintendence of officers appointed for this special purpose, (Acts 6:1-6) Particular directions are given by St.Paul as to the class of persons entitled to such public maintenance. (1Timothy 5:3-16) Out of the body of such widows a certain number were to be enrolled, the qualifications for such enrollment being that they were not under sixty years of age; that they had been "the wife of one man," probably meaning but once married ; and that they had led useful and charitable lives. vs. (1Timothy 5:9,10) We are not disposed to identify the widows of the Bible either with the deaconesses or with the presbutides Of the early Church. The order of widows existed as a separate institution, contemporaneously with these offices, apparently for the same eleemosynary purpose for which it was originally instituted.

Thompson Chain Topics
Frank Thompson's 1934 "The New Chain-Reference Bible". Copyright May 24 1934.


(1) Admonitions in regard to

Exodus 22:22; Deuteronomy 14:29; 24:17; 26:12; Proverbs 23:10; Isaiah 1:17; Jeremiah 22:3; James 1:27


(2) God's Care for

Deuteronomy 10:18; Psalms 10:14; 68:5; 146:9; Proverbs 15:25; Jeremiah 49:11; Hosea 14:3


The New Topical Textbook
Rev. R.A. Torrey- 1897 edition.


- Character of true

Luke 2:37; 1Timothy 5:5,10


Surely hears the cry of

Exodus 22:23

Judges for

Deuteronomy 10:18; Psalms 68:5


Psalms 146:9

Establishes the border of

Proverbs 15:25

Will witness against oppressors of

Malachi 3:5

- Exhorted to trust in God

Jeremiah 49:11



Exodus 22:22


Jeremiah 7:6; Zechariah 7:10

Treated with violence

Jeremiah 22:3

Deprived of raiment in pledge

Deuteronomy 24:17


Pleaded for

Isaiah 1:17

Honoured, if widows indeed

1Timothy 5:3

Relieved by their friends

1Timothy 5:4,16

Relieved by the Church

Acts 6:1; 1Timothy 5:9

Visited in affliction

James 1:27

Allowed to share in our blessings

Deuteronomy 14:29; 16:11,14; 24:19-21

- Though poor, may be liberal

Mark 12:42,43

- When young, exposed to may temptations

1Timothy 5:11-14



Acts 9:39

Cause joy to

Job 29:13

Disappoint not

Job 31:16


Do no good to

Job 24:21

Send, away empty

Job 22:9

Take pledges from

Job 24:3

Reject the cause of

Isaiah 1:23


Ezekiel 22:7

Make a prey of

Isaiah 10:2; Matthew 23:14


Psalms 94:6

- Curse for perverting judgment of

Deuteronomy 27:19

- Woe to those who oppress

Isaiah 10:1,2

- Blessings on those who relieve

Deuteronomy 14:29

- A type of Zion in affliction

Lamentations 5:3

- Were released from all obligation to former husbands

Romans 7:3

- Were clothed in mourning after the decease of husbands

Genesis 38:14,19; 2Samuel 14:2,5

- Reproach connected with

Isaiah 54:4

- Increase of, threatened as a punishment

Exodus 22:24; Jeremiah 15:8; 18:21


Not to be oppressed

Exodus 22:22; Deuteronomy 27:19

Raiment of, not to be taken in pledge by creditors

Deuteronomy 24:17

Bound to perform their vows

Numbers 30:9

Not to intermarry with priests

Leviticus 21:14

To be allowed to glean in fields and vineyards

Deuteronomy 24:19

To have a share of the triennial tithe

Deuteronomy 14:28,29; 26:12,13

To share in public rejoicings

Deuteronomy 16:11,14

When daughters of priests and childless to partake of the holy things

Leviticus 22:13

When left childless, to be married by their husband's nearest of kin

Deuteronomy 25:5,6; Ruth 3:10-13; 4:4,5; Matthew 22:24-26

- Allowed to marry again

Romans 7:3

- Intermarrying with, of kings considered treason

2Kings 2:21-24

- Not to be deplored by, considered a great calamity

Job 27:15; Psalms 78:64

- Were under the special protection of God

Deuteronomy 10:18; Psalms 68:5

- Were frequently oppressed and persecuted

Job 24:3; Ezekiel 22:7

- Specially taken care of by the Church

Acts 6:1; 1Timothy 5:9

- Often devoted themselves entirely to God's service

Luke 2:37; 1Timothy 5:10

- Instances of great liberality in

2Kings 17:9-15; Mark 12:42,43


A desolate condition

Isaiah 47:8,9

Zion in captivity

Lamentations 1:1