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Article Info:
published: 10/8/13

The Remnant of Israel

What was the remnant of Israel?

In the Hebrew Bible (i.e. the Christian Old Testament), the word remnant is the translation of יתר , yether , "what is left over" ( Deuteronomy 3:11 ; Deuteronomy 28:54 ; Joshua 12:4 , etc.); of שׁאר , she'ār , "the rest" (Ezra 3:8 the King James Version; Isaiah 10:20 , Isaiah 10:21 , Isaiah 10:22 ; Isaiah 11:16 , etc.; Zephaniah 1:4 ); more frequently of שׁארית , she'ērı̄th , "residue," etc. (2 Kings 19:4 , 2 Kings 19:31 ; 2 Chronicles 34:9 ; Ezra 9:14 ; Isaiah 14:30 , etc.).

As the translation of the last-mentioned two words, "remnant" has a special significance in the prophecies of Isaiah, as denoting "a holy seed," or spiritual kernel, of the nation which should survive impending judgment and become the germ of the people of God, being blessed of God and made a blessing (compare Micah 2:12 ; Micah 4:7 ; Micah 5:7 , Micah 5:8 ; Micah 7:18 ; also Zephaniah 2:7 ; Zephaniah 3:13 ; Haggai 1:12 , Haggai 1:14 ; Zechariah 8:6 ; Joel 2:32 ). Paul, in Romans 9:27 , quotes from Isaiah 10:22 f, "the remnant ( katáleimma , "what is left over" shall be saved"; compare also Romans 11:5 (where the word is leı́mma ) with 2 Kings 19:4 .

Several other Hebrew words are less frequently translated "remnant": 'āhar , "after"; yāthar , "to be left over," etc.; in the New Testament (the King James Version) we have also loipós , "left," "remaining" (Matthew 22:6 ; Revelation 11:13 , etc.).

For "remnant" the Revised Version (British and American) has "overhanging part" (Exodus 26:12 ), "rest" (Leviticus 14:18 , etc.); on the other hand gives "remnant" for "posterity" (Genesis 45:7 ), for "rest" (Joshua 10:20 ; 1 Chronicles 4:43 ; Isaiah 10:19 ), for "residue" (Haggai 2:2 ; Zechariah 8:11 ), etc.


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International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, which is in the public domain (with minor edits).