Assembly - Vine's Expository Dictionary of Old Testament Words

Usage Number: 1
Part Of Speech: Noun
Strong's Number: H6951
Original Word: qahal
Usage Notes: "assembly; company." Cognates derived from this Hebrew noun appear in late Aramaic and Syriac. Qahal occurs 123 times and in all periods of biblical Hebrew.

In many contexts, the word means an assembly gathered to plan or execute war. One of the first of these is Gen. 49:6. In 1 Kings 12:3 (rsv), "all the assembly of Israel" asked Rehoboam to ease the tax burden imposed by Solomon. When Rehoboam refused, they withdrew from him and rejected their feudal (military) allegiance to him. For the application of qahal to an army, see Ezek. 17:17: "Neither shall Pharaoh with his mighty army and great company make for him in the war…." Quite often, qahal is used to denote a gathering to judge or deliberate. This emphasis first appears in Ezek. 23:45-47, where the "company" judges and executes judgment. In many passages, the word signifies an assembly representing a larger group: "David consulted with the commanders of thousands and of hundreds, with every leader. And David said to all the assembly of Israel…" (1 Chron. 13:1-2, rsv). Here, "the whole assembly" of Israel refers to the assembled leaders (cf. 2 Chron. 1:2). Thus, in Lev. 4:13 we find that the sin of the whole congregation of Israel can escape the notice of the "assembly" (the judges or elders who represent the congregation).

Sometimes qahal represents all the males of Israel who were eligible to bring sacrifices to the Lord: "He whose testicles are crushed or whose male member is cut off shall not enter the assembly of the Lord" (Deut. 23:1, rsv). The only eligible members of the assembly were men who were religiously bound together under the covenant, who were neither strangers (living in Israel temporarily) nor sojourners (permanent non-Hebrew residents) (Num. 15:15). In Num. 16:3 and Num. 33, it is clear that the "assembly" was the worshiping, voting community (cf. Num. 18:4).

Elsewhere, the word qahal is used to signify all the people of Israel. The whole congregation of the sons of Israel complained that Moses had brought them forth into the wilderness to kill the whole assembly with hunger (Exod. 16:3). The first occurrence of the word also bears the connotation of a large group: "And God Almighty bless thee, and make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, that thou mayest be a multitude [qahal] of people…" (Gen. 28:3).

Usage Number: 2
Part Of Speech: Verb
Strong's Number: H6950
Original Word: qahal

Usage Notes: "to gather." The verb qahal, which occurs 39 times, is derived from the noun qahal. Like the noun, this verb appears in all periods of biblical Hebrew. It means "to gather" as a qahal for conflict or war, for religious purposes, and for judgment: "Then Solomon assembled the elders [qahal] of Israel…" (1 Kings 8:1).

Vine's Expository Dictionary of Old Testament Words