Dumb (אַלֵּם, illem; but in Hab 2:9, דּוּמָם, silent; Gr. κωφός, which also signifies deaf, since the two defects generally accompany each other; also ἄλαλος, speechless, Mr 7:37; Mr 9:17,25; ἄφωνος, voiceless, Ac 8:32; 1Co 12:2; 2Pe 2:16; and σιωπῶν, Lu 1:20), has the following significations:
(1.) One unable to speak by reason of natural infirmity (Ex 4:11).
(2.) One unable to speak by reason of want of knowing what to say, or how to say it; what proper mode of address to use, or what reasons to allege in his own behalf (Pr 31:8).
(3.) One unwilling to speak (Ps 39:9). We have a remarkable instance of this venerating dumbness, or silence, in the case of Aaron (Le 10:3), after Nadab and Abihu, his sons, were consumed by fire. "Aaron held his peace;" did not exclaim against the justice of God, I but saw the propriety of the divine procedure, and humbly acquiesced in it. Christ restored a man who was dumb from daemoniacal influence (Mt 9:32-33; Lu 11:14), and another who was both blind and dumb from the same cause (Mt 12:22). The man who was deaf and had an impediment in his speech (Mr 7:32-35), whom Christ restored, was not dumb, nor probably deaf by nature, but was one who had a natural impediment to enunciation, or who, having early lost his hearing, gradually lost much of his speech, and had become a stammerer. Such an impediment is either natural, arising from what is called a bos, or ulcer, by which any one is, as we say, tongue-tied, or brought on when, from an early loss of hearing, the membrane of the tongue becomes rigid and unable to perform its office. SEE DEAF; SEE SILENCE.