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GREEK WORD DEFINITIONS κοιμάω, 'koimao' Strong's 2837

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Introduction 2.2

This study defines the meaning of the Greek word κοιμάω, 'koimao' Strong's 2837 in the New Testament and in the Septuagint. We have examined every verse where the 'koimao' appears to obtain a true understanding of this word, and these scriptures need to be meditated on and notes made of their meaning in different contexts. 'Koimao' is a deponent verb which is middle or passive in form (koimaomai) but is active in meaning. We have used extracts from some others who have defined this word. In quotations from scripture the translation of the Greek word koimao is highlighted with bold and yellow. If any scripture words are in italics then there is no equivalent word for it in the Greek or Hebrew. Every blessing be to those who seek the truth of God's word.

#2.21 New Testament uses of κοιμάω, 'koimao' Strong's 2837

Expository Dictionary of Bible Words W.E. Vine P81
KOIMAOMAI (κοιμάομαι) is used of natural sleep Matthew 28:13, Luke 22:45, John 11:12, Acts 12:6; of the death of the body, but only of such as are Christ's; yet never of Christ Himself, though he is "the firstfruits of them that are fallen asleep," 1Corinthians 15:20; of saints who departed before Christ came, Matthew 27:52; of Lazarus while Christ was yet on the earth, John 11:11; of believers since the Ascension, 1Thessalonians 4:13, 4:14, 4:15, and Acts 7:60, 1Corinthians 7:39, 11:30, 15:6, 15:18, 15:51; 2Peter 3:4.

Note: This metaphorical use of the word sleep is appropriate, because of the similarity in appearance between a sleeping body and a dead body; restfulness and peace normally characterize both. The object of the metaphor is to suggest that, as the sleeper does not cease to exist while his body sleeps, so the dead person continues to exist despite his absence from the region in which those who remain can communicate with him, and that, as sleep is known to be temporary, so the death of the body will be found to be.

Here are the 18 New Testament scriptures where koimao appears.

Matthew 27:52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who slept arose,
28:13 Saying, You say, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept.
Luke 22:45 And when he rose up from prayer, and came to his disciples, he found them sleeping from sorrow.
John 11:11 These things he said: and after that he says to them, Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I go, that I may awake him.
11:12 Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleeps, he shall do well.
Acts 7:60 And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, do not lay this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
12:6 And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the guards in front of the door kept the prison.
13:36 For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell asleep, and was laid to his fathers, and saw corruption:
1 Corinthians 7:39 The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband lives; but if her husband is dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord.
11:30 For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.
15:6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brothers at once; of whom the greater part remain until now, but some have fallen asleep.
15:18 Then also those who fell asleep in Christ have perished.
15:20 But now Christ has been raised from the dead, and he became the first-fruits of those who slept.
15:51 Behold, I tell you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed.
1 Thessalonians 4:13 But I do not wish you to be ignorant, brothers, concerning those who are asleep, that you do not sorrow, even as others who have no hope.
4:14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so those also who sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
4:15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain to the coming of the Lord shall not go before those who are asleep.
2 Peter 3:4 And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.

In these 18 occurrences of 'koimaomai' it is used of natural sleep four times (Matthew 28:13, Luke 22:45, John 11:12, Acts 12:6), and the rest of the uses are figurative of sleep. It is evident that the word 'sleep' refers only to the body by its use in Matthew 27:52, where it mentions graves being opened and refers to 'the bodies of those who slept'. No mention of the soul sleeping or the spirit sleeping. Also when Jesus said, 'Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I go, that I may awake him.' (John 11:11), he was evidently speaking figuratively as Jesus spoke of his death (v13). Jesus then said to them plainly (not figuratively), 'Lazarus is dead' (v14). So speaking plainly Jesus said that Lazarus was 'dead', but speaking figuratively he said that Lazarus was 'asleep'. Also to figuratively 'awake him' he went to the tomb where the body was and 'plainly' resurrected the body.

#2.22 Septuagint definition of κοιμάω, 'koimao' Strong's 2837

All references to the Septuagint are chapter and verse as in the bible, not the original Septuagint references. We have renumbered them.
In the Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Old Testament, 'koimao' occurs far more often. We have traced 187 occurrences of which a few were difficult to discern or were not translated from Hebrew. We have excluded the Apocrypha.

#2.221Translating the Hebrew שָׁכַב 'shakav' for 'lie down' Strong's 7901

In 148 scriptures 'koimao' translates the Hebrew word 'shakav' which means 'to lie down' Strong's 7901, and here are the references and meanings that we have detected.

In 49 scriptures 'koimaomai' refers figuratively to death.

1 Kings 2:10 So David lay down with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David.
2 Chronicles 9:31 And Solomon lay down with his fathers, and he was buried in the city of David his father: and Rehoboam his son reigned in his place.
Job 21:25-26 And another dies in the bitterness of his soul, and never eats with pleasure.
They shall lie down alike in the dust, and the worms shall cover them.

Other scriptures where 'koimaomai' refers figuratively to death: Genesis 47:30, Deuteronomy 31:16, Judges 5:27, 2 Samuel 7:12, 1 Kings 1:21, 11:43, 15:8, 15:24, 16:6, 16:28, 22:40, 22:50, 2 Kings 8:24, 10:35, 13:9, 13:13, 14:16, 14:22, 15:7, 15:22, 15:38, 16:20, 20:21, 21:18, 24:6, 2 Chronicles 16:13, 21:1, 26:2, 26:23, 27:9, 28:27, 32:33, 33:20, Job 3:13, 14:12, 27:19, Isaiah 14:18, Lamentations 2:21, Ezekiel 31:18, 32:21, 32:27, 32:28, 32:29, 32:30, 32:32.
The evidence that the word 'sleep' used in some translations is only used figuratively of the body, is that on numerous occasions the word 'buried' is used in the same verse. Also Job referred to lying down 'in the dust' and 'worms covering them'. There are no references to the 'soul sleeping' or the 'spirit sleeping'

In 38 scriptures 'koimaomai' refers to lying down for fornication.

Genesis 19:33 And they made their father drink wine that night: and the firstborn went in, and lay with her father; and he did not perceive when she lay down, nor when she arose.
Leviticus 18:22 You shall not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.
2 Samuel 11:4 And David sent messengers, and took her; and she came in to him, and he lay with her; for she was purified from her uncleanness: and she returned to her house.

Other scriptures where 'koimaomai' refers lying down for fornication: Genesis 19:32, 19:33(2x), 19:34(2x), 19:35(2x), 26:10, 34:2, 34:7, 35:22, 39:7, 39:12, 39:14, Exodus 22:16, 22:19, Leviticus 15:24, 18:22, 19:20, 20:11, 20:12, 20:13(2x), 20:18, 20:20, Numbers 5:13, Deuteronomy 22:22, 22:25, 22:28, 22:29, 27:20, 27:21, 27:22, 29:23, 2 Samuel 11:4, 12:11, 13:11, 13:14.
Obviously the word sleep is not appropriate in these passages as the purpose for lying down is for fornication not sleep.

In 33 scriptures 'koimaomai' refers to lying down for natural sleep or rest.

Genesis 19:4 But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, surrounded the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter:
Exodus 22:27 For that is his covering only, it is his raiment for his skin: in what shall he sleep? And it shall come to pass, when he cries to me, that I will hear; for I am gracious.
Ruth 3:4 And it shall be, when he lies down, that you shall know the place where he lies down, and you shall go in, and uncover his feet, and lie down; and he will tell you what you shall do.

Other scriptures where it is translated with this sense are: Genesis 28:11, 41:21, Exodus 22:27, Leviticus 26:6 Deuteronomy 24:12, 24:13, Joshua 2:8, Judges 16:3, Ruth 3:4(3x), 3:7, 3:8, 3:13, 3:14, 1 Samuel 3:9, 3:15, 2 Samuel 11:9, 11:13, 1 Kings 19:5, 19:6, 2 Kings 4:11, Job 7:4, 20:11, Job 40:21, Psalm 3:5, 4:8, 41:8, 68:13, Isa 50:11, Jeremiah 3:25.
In these cases the word 'koimaomai' is used of lying down for natural sleep or rest, but that is determined by the syntax and the context, not by the meaning of the word.

In 6 scriptures 'koimaomai' refers to lying down in uncleanness.

Leviticus 14:47 And he who lies in the house (plagued with leprosy) shall wash his clothes; and he who eats in the house shall wash his clothes.
Leviticus 15:24 And if any man lies down on the bed with her, and her impurity is upon him, he shall be unclean seven days; and all the bed on which he lies shall be unclean.

Other scriptures where it is translated with this sense are: Leviticus 15:18, 15:26, 15:33.

In 4 scriptures 'koimaomai' refers to lying down for lawful sex.

Genesis 30:16 And Jacob came out of the field in the evening, and Leah went out to meet him, and said, You must come in to me; for surely I have hired you with my son's mandrakes. And he lay with her that night.
2 Samuel 11:11 And Uriah said to David, The ark, and Israel, and Judah, abide in tents; and my lord Joab, and the servants of my lord, are encamped in the open fields; shall I then go into my house, to eat and to drink, and to lie with my wife? As you live, and as your soul lives, I will not do this thing.
2 Samuel 12:24 And David comforted Bathsheba his wife, and went in to her, and lay with her: and she bore a son, and he called his name Solomon: and Yahweh loved him.

One other scripture where it is translated with this sense is Genesis 30:15.

In 3 scriptures 'koimaomai' refers to lying down pretending to be ill.

2 Samuel 13:5 And Jonadab said to him, Lie down on your bed, and make yourself look sick: and when your father comes to see you, say to him, I pray you, let my sister Tamar come, and give me meat, and dress the meat in my sight, that I may see it, and eat it at her hand.
13:6 So Amnon lay down, and made himself look sick: and when the king came to see him, Amnon said to the king, I pray you, let Tamar my sister come, and make me a couple of cakes in my sight, that I may eat at her hand.
13:7 Then David sent home to Tamar, saying, Go now to your brother Amnon's house, and dress him meat.
13:8 So Tamar went to her brother Amnon's house; and he was lying down. And she took flour, and kneaded it, and made cakes in his sight, and baked the cakes.

In 3 scriptures 'koimaomai' refers to lying down together without sex.

1 Kings 1:2 Therefore his servants said to him, Let there be sought for my lord the king a young virgin: and let her stand before the king, and let her cherish him, and let her lie in your bosom, that my lord the king may get heat.
1 Kings 3:19 And this woman's child died in the night; because she lay on it.
Ecclesiastes 4:11 Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone?

In 2 scriptures 'koimaomai' refers to a dead person lying down.

2 Kings 4:21 And she went up, and laid him on the bed of the man of God, and shut the door upon him, and went out.
2 Kings 4:32 And when Elisha came into the house, behold, the child was dead, lying upon his bed.

In 3 scriptures 'koimaomai' refers to Ezekiel lying on his side to bear the sin of Israel.

Ezekiel 4:4 Lie also upon your left side, and lay the iniquity of the house of Israel upon it: according to the number of the days that you shall lie upon it you shall bear their iniquity.
4:6 And when you have accomplished them, lie again on your right side, and you shall bear the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days: I have appointed you each day for a year.

In 1 scripture 'koimaomai' refers to a defeated person being forced to lie down.

2 Samuel 8:2 And he struck Moab, and measured them with a line, causing them to lie down on the ground; even with two lines he measured to put to death, and with one full line to keep alive. And so the Moabites became David's servants, and brought gifts.

In 1 scripture 'koimaomai' refers to lying down to grieve or seek God.

2 Samuel 13:31 Then the king arose, and tore his garments, and lay on the earth; and all his servants stood by with their clothes torn.

In 1 scripture 'koimaomai' refers to lying down to sulk.

1 Kings 21:4 And Ahab came into his house heavy and displeased because of the word which Naboth the Jezreelite had spoken to him: for he had said, I will not give you the inheritance of my fathers. And he lay down upon his bed, and turned away his face, and would not eat bread.

In 1 scripture 'koimaomai' refers to lying on someone to raise them from the dead.

2 Kings 4:34 And he went up, and lay down upon the child, and put his mouth upon his mouth, and his eyes upon his eyes, and his hands upon his hands: and he stretched himself upon the child; and the flesh of the child became warm..

In 1 scripture 'koimaomai' refers to the heart not resting.

Ecclesiastes 2:23 For all his days are sorrows, and his travail grief; yes, his heart does not lie down in the night. This is also vanity.

This could be translated 'rest' or 'sleep' rather than 'lie down', as it is one of the scriptures that shows that the spirit or soul does not sleep when a man sleeps. Another scripture which confirms it is, 'I sleep, but my heart is awake;' (Song of Solomon 5:2).

In 1 scripture 'koimaomai' refers to committing spiritual fornication with idols.

Ezekiel 23:8 Nor did she leave her fornication brought from Egypt: for in her youth they lay with her, and they bruised the breasts of her virginity, and poured their fornication upon her.

In 1 scripture 'koimaomai' refers to trees being 'cut or laid down'.

Isaiah 14:8 Yes, the fir trees rejoice over you, and the cedars of Lebanon, saying, Since you have lain down, no wood-cutter has come up against us.

#2.222 Translating the Hebrew לוּן 'lun' for 'lodge' or 'stay' Strong's 3885

In 15 scriptures 'koimaomai' is translated with the sense of 'lodge or stay or remain'.

Genesis 24:54 And they ate and drank, he and the men who were with him, and stayed all night; and they rose up in the morning, and he said, Send me away to my master.
Leviticus 19:13 You shall not defraud your neighbour, neither rob him: the wages of him who is hired shall not remain with you all night until the morning.
Joshua 6:11 So the ark of Yahweh went around the city, going about it once: and they came into the camp, and lodged in the camp.

Other places where it is translated with this sense are: Genesis 28:11, 31:54, 32:13, 32:21, Exodus 23:18, 34:25, Deuteronomy 16:4, 21:23, Job 39:9, Isaiah 1:21, 21:13, 65:4.

#2.223 Translating the Hebrew רָבַץ 'ravats' for 'crouch' or 'lie down' Strong's 7257

Genesis 49:9 Judah is a lion's whelp: from the prey, my son, you have arisen: he stooped, he lay down as a lion, and as a lioness; who shall rouse him up?
Ezekiel 34:14 I will feed them in a good pasture, and their fold shall be on the high mountains of Israel: there they shall lie in a good fold, and in a fat pasture shall they feed upon the mountains of Israel.

#2.224 Translating the Hebrew חָתַת 'chatat' for 'go down' Strong's 2865

Job 21:13 They spend their days in wealth, and in a moment go down to the grave.

#2.225 Translating the Hebrew כָשַׁל 'kashal' for 'fall down' or 'stumble' Strong's 3782

Proverbs 4:16 For they do not sleep, except they have done mischief; and their sleep is taken away, unless they cause some to fall down.

#2.226 Translating the Hebrew יָשֵׁן 'yashen' for 'sleep' Strong's 3462

Isaiah 5:27 None shall be weary nor stumble among them; none shall slumber nor sleep; neither shall the girdle of their loins be loosed, nor the lace of their shoes be broken:

#2.227 Translating the Hebrew יָגַע 'yaga' for 'faint ' Strong's 3021

Jeremiah 45:3 You said, Woe is me now! for Yahweh has added grief to my sorrow; I fainted in my sighing, and I find no rest.

#2.228 Translating the Hebrew שׂוּם 'sum' for 'lie down ' Strong's 7760

Ezekiel 4:4 Lie also upon your left side, and lay the iniquity of the house of Israel upon it: according to the number of the days that you shall lie upon it you shall bear their iniquity.

#2.229 Translating the Hebrew רָדַמ 'radam' for 'deep sleep' Strong's 7290

Daniel 8:18 Now as he was speaking with me, I lay in a deep sleep on my face toward the ground: but he touched me, and set me upright.

Conclusion of the meaning of κοιμάω 'koimao' Strong's 2837

Koimao is a verb, Strong's 2837 from 'keimai' Strong's 2749 which literally means 'to lie down' or figuratively 'to sleep'. Hence 148 times out of 187 occurrences in the Septuagint it is used to translate the Hebrew word שָׁכַב 'shakav' which also means 'to lie down' Strong's 7901. The evidence that the word 'sleep' is used figuratively and refers only to the body when used of a dead person is its use in Matthew 27:52, where it mentions graves being opened and refers to 'the bodies of those who slept'. The evidence that it refers only to the body when it refers to natural sleep is the fact that the spirit or soul of the person does not sleep when a person sleeps. It keeps all the body functions working, such as heart beating and breathing, and is often active in dreams or visions. Also 'koimaomai' is used in numerous places where the purpose for lying down is clearly not sleep; such as Elijah lying on a child to raise him from the dead (2 Kings 4:34), numerous places where the reference is to sex (Genesis 19:33, 30:16 etc.), David lying down to seek God (2 Samuel 13:31), Ahab lying down to sulk (1 Kings 21:4) etc.. This word only refers to sleep literally when the context confirms it. Here is W.E. Vine's understanding of the word.

Expository Dictionary of Bible Words W.E. Vine P81
"That the body alone is in view in this metaphor is evident,
(a) from the derivation of the word koimaomai, from keimai, to lie down (compare anastasis, resurrection, from ana, 'up,' and histemi, to cause to stand); compare Isaiah 14:8, where for 'laid down,' the Septuagint has 'fallen asleep;'
(b) from the fact that in the NT the word resurrection is used of the body alone;
(c) from Dan. 12:2, where the physically dead are described as 'them that sleep (Septuagint katheudo, as at 1 Thessalonians 5:6) in the dust of the earth,' language inapplicable to the spiritual part of man; moreover, when the body returns whence it came, Genesis 3:19, the spirit returns to God who gave it, Ecclesiastes 12:7."

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