International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
en'-e-mi ('oyebh, tsar, tsar; echthros):
"Enemy," "enemies," are frequent words in the Old Testament. The Hebrew word most often so translated is 'oyebh, meaning perhaps literally, "one who hates"; very frequent in the Psalms, eg. 3:7; 6:10; 7:05; 8:02; 9:3, 1; 13:2, where the cry is often for deliverance from enemies. Another word for "enemy," found chiefly in the poetical books, is tsar, or tsar, "distresser," "straitener" (Numbers 10:9 Job 16:9 Psalm 27:2, 12, the Revised Version (British and American) "adversary," etc.); also tsarar (Esther 3:10 Psalm 8:2; Psalm 10:5 the King James Version, etc.). Other words are `ar, "one awake" (1 Samuel 28:16 the King James Version; Daniel 4:19 the King James Version); sane', perhaps, "to be sharp or bite" (Exodus 1:10 Proverbs 25:21; Proverbs 27:6); sharar, "to watch" (Psalm 5:8; Psalm 27:11), and qum, "to stand up," or "withstand" (Exodus 32:25).
In the New Testament echthros, "enemy," "opponent," is the only word translated "enemy" (Matthew 5:43, 14 Mark 12:36 Luke 1:71, 74, etc.; Romans 5:10; Romans 11:28, etc.), once with anthropos ("a man"), joined to echthros (Matthew 13:28).
In the Revised Version (British and American) "adversary" is frequently substituted for "enemy" (Numbers 24:8 Deuteronomy 32:41 Psalm 6:7; Psalm 7:6; Psalm 44:10, etc.); for "O thou enemy," etc. (Psalm 9:6) we have "The enemy are come to an end"; instead of "When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him" (Isaiah 59:19) we have "For he will come as a rushing stream, which the breath of Yahweh driveth" (with the text of the King James Version in margins); for "The fire of thine enemies shall devour them" (Isaiah 26:11), "Fire shall devour thine adversaries" (text of the King James Version in the margin).
The frequent reference to enemies in the Old Testament is what we should expect to see in these early times on the part of a people settling in a land that had been occupied by other tribes, worshipping other gods. The spirit of their law was that expressed by our Lord in His Sermon on the Mount, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy." This He changed: "but I say unto you, Love your enemies." An approach toward this spirit had been made in the later prophets by their inclusion of the whole world under one God, who had a gracious purpose toward all, but the near statement of it we only find in Proverbs 25:21 (quoted by Paul, Romans 12:20). See also Exodus 23:4, and compare 2 Kings 6:22 2 Chronicles 28:15.
W. L. Walker