Shalom Definition

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What is the meaning of Shalom in Hebrew? How frequently is it used? How is it linked to God's name? What is its equivalent in the New Testament?

Shalom (Strong's #H7965) can mean slightly different things depending on the Biblical context. It is usually translated as "peace" in the KJV Bible. It can also be translated as "well" (Genesis 29:6), "peaceably" (Genesis 37:4), "welfare" (Genesis 43:27), "saluted" (1Samuel 30:21), "prospered" (2Samuel 11:7) and others. In general, however, Shalom is a salutation that wishes someone is safe, well, happy and at peace.

Shalom is recorded 236 times in the Hebrew Old Testament. The prophet Jeremiah uses it the most with 31 occurrences, while Isaiah is a close second with 29 uses. Its closest New Testament counterpart is the English word "peace," which is recorded 111 times in the King James.

A classic Old Testament example of this word's usage, in the original text, can be found in the response of Jacob's sons to Joseph's favored position with their father.

And Israel (Jacob) loved Joseph more than all his sons because he was the son of his old age. And he made him a tunic reaching to the soles of his feet. And when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably (Shalom) to him (Genesis 37:3 - 4).

God's name is linked to Shalom through an altar made by Gideon. He built the altar near where he lived when he was relieved he would not die for seeing the Lord.

And the Lord said to him, "Peace (Shalom) to you. Do not fear. You shall not die." Then Gideon built an altar there to the Lord, and called it Jehovah Shalom (Jehovah is Peace, Strong's Concordance #H3073). It is yet in Ophrah of the Abiezrites to this day (Judges 6:23 - 24).

Interesting Facts

The New Testament's general epistles are composed of books written by James, Peter, John and Jude. Absent in two of these seven books, 1John and Jude, is any salutation offering peace to its readers. The book of Revelation however, penned by John, does offer this wish to the seven churches of Asia Minor (Revelation 1:4).

The book of Hebrews is the only one out of fourteen the Apostle Paul does not wish peace (Shalom) to those who read it.

Shalom, according to the 2010 United States Census, is tied with several other last names as being the 33,941th most common surname. It belongs to 670 people who participated in the census.

List of terms in
Dictionary of Biblical Words

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