Bible Answer

Interpretation of “idumean”?

In the study of Isaiah, how did you come to find the Hebrew definition of "idumean" was silence/death?

The prophet Isaiah was a master of the Hebrew language and frequently makes plays on Hebrew words to communicate subtle meaning. Studying how these words are used across scripture leads us to useful insights. 

In the case of Pastor Armstrong’s teaching from Isaiah 21, a close study of scripture provides the answer:

Is. 21:11  The oracle concerning Edom. 
One keeps calling to me from Seir, 
“Watchman, how far gone is the night? 
Watchman, how far gone is the night?”
Is. 21:12 The watchman says, 
“Morning comes but also night. 
If you would inquire, inquire; 
Come back again.”

As Pastor Armstrong explains in his notes, the word translated as Edom is actually the word Idumea (yiddemu) in Hebrew. We see this clearly when looking at the Septuagint version of Isaiah:

Is. 21:11 The vision of Idumea. Call to me out of Seir; guard ye the bulwarks.
Is. 21:12 I watch in the morning and the night: if thou wouldest enquire, enquire, and dwell by me.

Notice in the Septuagint, Isaiah says the vision is of “Idumea” which is another name for Edom. In Hebrew, the word idumea means silent/death. We find this confirmed in Psalm 31:

Psa. 31:17 Let me not be put to shame, O Lord, for I call upon You; 
Let the wicked be put to shame, let them be silent in Sheol.

The same Hebrew word (yiddemu) is used in Psalm 31:17, translated as “silent”. Add that to the location of Sheol and we see the Psalmist is referring to the silence that death produces. Therefore, Isaiah is using that name to subtly explain this was an oracle about Edom and one that foretells its end.