International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
pan (chul, chil, chebhel, chalah, chalchalah, ka'-ebh, ke'ebh, metsar, makh'obh, `amal, tsir; basanizo, ponos, odin): These words signifying various forms of bodily or mental suffering are generally translated "pain"; 28 out of the 34 passages in which the word is used are in the poetical or prophetical books and refer to conditions of mental disquiet or dismay due to the punishment of personal or national sin. There is only one instance where the word is used as a historic record of personal physical pain: the case of the wife of Phinehas (1 Samuel 4:19), but the same word tsir is used figuratively in Isaiah 13:8; Isaiah 21:3 Daniel 10:16, and translated "pangs" or "sorrows." In other passages where we have the same comparison of consternation in the presence of God's judgments to the pangs of childbirth, the word used is chebhel, as in Isaiah 66:7 Jeremiah 13:21; Jeremiah 22:23; Jeremiah 49:24. In some of these and similar passages several synonyms are used in the one verse to intensify the impression, and are translated "pain," "pangs," and "sorrows," as in Isaiah 13:8.
The word most commonly used by the prophets is some form of chul or chil, sometimes with the addition "as of a woman in travail," as in Psalm 48:6 Isaiah 26:18 Jeremiah 6:24; Jeremiah 22:23 Micah 4:10. This pain is referred to the heart (Psalm 55:4) or to the head (Jeremiah 30:23; compare Jeremiah 30:5, 6). In Ezekiel 30:4, it is the penal affliction of Ethiopia, and in 30:16, the King James Version "Sin (Tanis) shall have great pain" (the Revised Version (British and American) "anguish"); in Isaiah 23:5 Egypt is sorely pained at the news of the fall of Tyre. Before the invading host of locusts the people are much pained (Joel 2:6 the King James Version). Pain in the sense of toil and trouble in Jeremiah 12:13 is the translation of chalah a word more frequently rendered grieving or sickness, as in 1 Kings 14:1 Proverbs 23:35 Songs 2:5 Jeremiah 5:3. The reduplicated form chalchalah is especially used of a twisting pain usually referred to the loins (Isaiah 21:3 Ezekiel 30:4, 9 Nahum 2:10).
Pain in the original meaning of the word (as it has come down to us through the Old French from the Latin poena) as a penalty inflicted for personal sin is expressed by the words ka'ebh or ke'abh in Job 14:22; Job 15:20, and in the questioning complaint of the prophet (Jeremiah 15:18). As a judgment on personal sin pain is also expressed by makh'obh in Job 33:19 Jeremiah 51:8, but this word is used in the sense of afflictions in Isaiah 53:3 in the expression "man of sorrows." The Psalmist (Psalm 25:18) praying for deliverance from the afflictions which weighed heavily on him in turn uses the word `amal, and this word which primarily means "toil" or "labor," as in Ecclesiastes 1:3, or "travail" as in Isaiah 53:11, is translated "painful" in Psalm 73:16, as expressing Asaph's disquiet due to his misunderstanding of the ways of Providence. The "pains of hell" (Psalm 116:3 the King James Version), which got hold of the Psalmist in his sickness, is the rendering of the word metsar; the same word is translated "distress" in Psalm 118:5. Most of these words have a primary physical meaning of twisting, rubbing or constricting.
In the New Testament, odin is translated "pain" (of death, the Revised Version (British and American) "pang") in Acts 2:24. This word is used to express any severe pain, such as that of travail, or (as in Aeschylus, Choephori, 211) the pain of intense apprehension. The verb from this, odunomai, is used by the Rich Man in the parable to describe his torment (the Revised Version (British and American) "anguish") (Luke 16:24). The related verb sunodino is used in Romans 8:22 and is translated "travailing in pain together." In much the same sense, the word is used by Euripides (Helena, 727).
In Revelation 12:2 the woman clothed with the sun (basanizomene) was in pain to be delivered; the verb (basanizo) which means "to torture" is used both in Matthew 8:6 in the account of the grievously tormented centurion's servant, and in the description of the laboring of the apostles' boat on the stormy Sea of Galilee (Matthew 14:24). The former of these seems to have been a case of spinal meningitis. This verb occurs in Thucydides vii.86 (viii.92), where it means "being put to torture." In the two passages in Revelation where pain is mentioned the word is ponos, the pain which affected those on whom the fifth vial was poured (16:10), and in the description of the City of God where there is no more pain (21:4). The primary meaning of this word seems to be "toil," as in Iliad xxi.525, but it is used by Hippocrates to express disease (Aphorisma iv.44).