East is the rendering of the following terms in the English Bible. SEE GEOGRAPHY.

1. מַזרִח mizrach' properly denotes the rising, sc. of the sun, and strictly corresponds with the Greek, άνατολή, and the Latin, oriens. It is used tropically for the east indefinitely (Ps 103:12; Da 8:9; Am 8:12, etc.); also definitely for some place in relation to others, thus, "The land of the east," i.e., the country lying to the east of Syria, the Elymais (Zec 8:7); "the east of Jericho" (Jos 4:19); "the east gate" (Ne 3:29), and adverbially " eastward" (1Ch 7:28; 1Ch 9:24, etc.). Sometimes the full expression מַזרִח9שֶׁמֶשׁ, sunrise is used (indefinitely Isa 41:25; definitely, Jg 11:18). See below.

2. קֶדֶם, ke'dem (with its modifications), properly means what is in front of, before (comp. Ps 139:5; Isa 9:11 [12]). As the Hebrews, in pointing out the quarters, looked towards the east, קֶדֶם, fore, came to signify the east, as אָהוֹר, behind, the west, and יָמַין, the right hand, the south. In this sense kedem is used (a) indefinitely, Ge 11:2; Ge 13:11, etc.; (b) relatively, Nu 34:11, etc.; (a) definitely, to denote the regions lying to the east of Palestine (Ge 29:1; Nu 23:7; Isa 9:11; sometimes in the full form, אֶרֶוֹ9קֶדֶם, " land of the east" (Ge 25:6), the inhabitants of which are denominated בּנֵי9קֶדם" children of the east." SEE BENE-KEDEM.

Definition of east

Sometimes kedem and mizrach are used together (e.g. Ex 27:13; Jos 19:12), which is, after all not so tautological as it appears to be in our translation "on the east side eastward." Bearing in mind this etymological distinction, it is natural that kedem should be used when the four quarters of the world are described (as in Ge 13:14; Ge 28:14; Job 23:8-9; Eze 47:18 sq.), and mizrach when the east is only distinguished from the west (Jos 11:3; Ps 1:1; Ps 103:12; Ps 113:3; Zec 8:7), or from some other one quarter (Da 8:9; Da 11:44; Am 8:12); exceptions to this usage occur in Ps 107:3 and Isa 43:5, each, however, admitting of explanation. Again, kedem is used in a strictly geographical sense to describe a spot or country immediately before another in an easterly direction; hence it occurs in such passages as Ge 2:8; Ge 3:24; Ge 11:2; Ge 13:11; Ge 25:6; and hence the subsequent application of the term as a proper name (Ge 25:6, eastward, unto the land of Kedem), to the lands lying immediately eastward of Palestine, viz. Arabia, Mesopotamia, Babylonia, etc.; on the other hand, mizrach is used of the far east with a less definite signification (Isa 41:2,25; Isa 43:5; Isa 46:11). In describing aspect or direction, the terms are used indifferently (comp. kedem in Le 1:16, and Jos 7:2, with mizrach in 2Ch 5:12, and 1Ch 5:10). SEE WEST; etc.

"The East" is the name given by the ancient Hebrews to a certain region, without any regard to its relation to the eastern part of the heavens, comprehending not only Arabia Deserta and the lands of Moab and Ammon, which really lay to the east of Palestine but also Armenia, Assyria, Mesopotamia, Babylonia, and Chaldea, which were situated rather to the north than the east of Judaea. Its geographical boundaries include Syria, the countries beyond the Tigris and Euphrates, and the shores of the Indiana Ocean and of the Arabian Gulf. The name given to this entire region by the Hebrews was אֶרֶוֹ קֶדֶם (ἀνατολή), or the land of Kedem or East; by the Babylonians it was called עֲרָב, or Α᾿ραβία Arabia. Its miscellaneous population were called by the former "sons of the East," or Orientals, and by the latter either Arabians, or the "people of the West." The Jews themselves also apply to them the Babylonian name in some of their books written after the Captivity (2Ch 22:1; Ne 2:9). The Arabs anciently denominated themselves, and do to this day, by either of these names. To this region belong the "kings of the East" (Isa 19:11; Jer 25:19-25, Hebrew). The following passages may suffice as instances showing the arbitrary application of the term "east" to this region. Balaam says that Balak, king of Moab, had brought him from the mountains of the east (Nu 23:7), i.e., from Pethor on the Euphrates. Isaiah places Syria in the east (Nu 9:11), " the Syrians from the east" (bishop Lowth). The distinction seems evident in Ge 29:1," Jacob came unto the land of the children of the East." It occurs again in Jg 6:3, "Even the children of the East came against them" (Sept. οἱ υἱοὶ άνατολῶν; Vulg. coeteri Orientalium nationum). The preceding facts enable us to account for the prodigious numbers of persons sometimes assembled in war against the Israelites (Jg 6:5; Jg 7:12), " and the children of the East were like grasshoppers for multitude," and for the astonishing carnage recorded (Jg 8:10), "there fell a hundred and twenty thousand men that drew the sword." It seems that the inhabitants of this region were distinguished for their proficiency in the arts and sciences (compare 1Ki 1:4,30), and were addicted in the time of Isaiah to superstition (Isaiah 26). SEE ARABIA.

The east seems to have been regarded as symbolical of distance (Isa 46:11), as the land stretched out in these directions without any known limit. In Isa 2:6, the house of Jacob is said to be "replenished from the east" (מ לאוּ מַקֶּדֶם), which some explain as referring to witchcraft, or the arts of divination practiced in the East while others, with greater probability, understand it of the men of the East, the diviners and soothsayers who came from the east (compare Job 15:2); the correct text may, however, be מַקֶּסֶם, with sorcery, which gives a better sense (Gesen. Thesaur. page 1193). SEE WITCHCRAFT.

3. Α᾿νατολή, sunrise. This word usually occurs in the plural, and without the article. When, therefore, we read, as in Mt 2:1-2, that μάγοι ἀπὸ ἀνατολῶν came to Jerusalem saying we have seen his star ἑν τῇ ἀνατολῇ, we are led to suspect some special reason for such a variation. The former phrase is naturally rendered as equivalent to Oriental Magi, and the indefinite expression is to be explained by reference to the use of קֶדֶּם in the Old Test. The latter phrase offers greater difficulty. If it be taken "in the east," the questions arise why the singular and not the customary plural should be used? why the article should be added? and why the wise men should have seen the star in the east when the place where the child was lay to the west of their locality (unless, indeed, ἐν τῇ ανατολῇ relates to the star, and not the wise men themselves, to whom it seems to refer). Pressed by the difficulties thus suggested, the majority of recent interpreters take ἐν τῇ ἀνατολῇ literally in its rise, and trace a correspondence of this with the τεχθείς of the preceding clause: they inquired for the child, whom they knew to be born, because they had seen the rising of his star, the signal of his birth. Alford objects to this, that for such a meaning we should expect αὐτοῦ, if not in verse 2, certainly in verse 9; but the construction falls under the case where the article by indicating something closely associated with the subject, supersedes the use of the demonstrative pronoun. In the Sept. ἀνατολαί is used both for kedem and mizrach. It should be observed that the expression is, with but few exceptions (Da 8:9; Re 21:13; compare 7:2; 16:12, from which it would seem to have been John's usage to insert ἡλίου), ἀνατολαί (Mt 2:1; Mt 8:11; Mt 24:27; Lu 13:29), and not ἀνατολή. It is hardly possible that Matthew would use the two terms indifferently in succeeding verses (Mt 2:1-2), particularly as he adds the article to ἀνατολή, which is invariably absent in other cases (compare Re 21:13). He seems to imply a definiteness in the locality-that it was the country called קֶדֶם, or ἀσατολή (comp. the modern Anatolia), as distinct from the quarter or point of the compass (ἀνατολαί) in which it lay. In confirmation of this, it may be noticed that in the only passage where the article is prefixed to kedem (Ge 10:30), the term is used for a definite and restricted locality, namely, Southern Arabia. SEE STAR IN THE EAST.

The only other terms rendered " east" in the Scriptures are the following: חִרסוּת (charsuth', pottery), applied to a gate of Jerusalem, improperly called "east gate" (Jer 19:2), but meaning the potters' gate (s.v.), i.e., one which led to the " potters' field" in the valley of Hinnom (see Strong's Harmony and Exposition, Appendix 2, page 11). SEE JERUSALEM. מוֹצָא (motsa', a going forth, as it is elsewhere usually rendered), applied poetically to sunrise (Ps 75:6) For "east-wind," "east-sea," see below.


1. The earliest churches faced eastward; at a later period (4th or 5th century) this was reversed, and the sacramental table was placed at the east, so that worshippers facing it in their devotions were turned towards the east. The Jewish custom was to turn to the west in prayer. Socrates says (Ecclesiastes Hist. book 6, chapter 5) that the church of Antioch had its altar on the west, i.e., towards Jerusalem.

2. Many fanciful reasons are assigned, both by ancient writers and by modern ritualists, for worshipping towards the east. Among them are the following:

"(1.) The rising sun was the symbol of Christ, the Sun of Righteousness; and, since people must worship towards some quarter of the heavens, they chose that which led them to Christ by symbolical representation (Tertullian, Apol. 1:16).

(2.) The east was the place, of paradise, our ancient habitation and country, which we lost in the first Adam by the Fall, and whither we hope to be restored again, as to our native abode and rest, in the second Adam, Christ our Savior (Apost. Const. lib. 2, c. 57).

(3.) The, east was considered the most honorable part of the creation, being the seat of light and brightness.

(4.) Christ made his appearance on earth in the east, and thence ascended into heaven, and there will appear again as the last day. The authority of many of the fathers has been adduced by ecclesiastical writers in support of these views. The author of the Questions to Antiochus, under the name of Athanasius, gives this account of the practice: 'We do not,' says he, 'worship towards the east, as if we thought God any way shut up in those parts of the world, but because God is in himself the true Light. In turning, therefore, towards the created light, we do not worship it, but the great Creator of it; taking occasion from that most excellent element to adore the God who was before all elements and ages in the world.' A little attention to geography shows that these are nothing but fancies. That part of the heavens, for example, which is east at six o'clock in the morning, is west at six o'clock in the evening, so that we cannot at both these periods pray towards 'that quarter of the heavens where (according to Wheatly) God is supposed to have his peculiar residence of glory,' unless, if we turn to the east at morning prayer, we turn to west at even song. Not only so, but two individuals on opposite sides of the globe, though both suppose that they are praying with their faces to the east, are, so far as it respects each other, or any particular 'quarter of the heavens,' praying in opposite directions, one east and the other west, one looking towards that 'quarter,' the other away from it. So that all such reasons are rendered futile by the geographical fact that, owing to the rotation of the earth on its axis, every degree of longitude becomes during the twenty-four hours both east and west."

3. Turning East in Baptism. — In the ancient baptisteries were two apartments: first, a porch or anteroom (προαύλιος οϊvκος), where the catechumens made their renunciations of Satan and confessions of faith; and the inner room (ἐσώτερος οϊvκος), where the ceremony of baptism was performed. When the catechumens were brought into the former of these they were placed with their faces to the west, and were then commanded to renounce Satan with some gesture and rite expressing an indignation against him, as by stretching out their hands, or folding them, or striking them together, and sometimes by spitting at him as if he were present. The words generally used by the candidate were, "I renounce Satan, and his works, and his pomps, and his service, and his angels, and his inventions, and all things that belong to him, or that are subject to him." The reason assigned by Cyril (Catech. Mystag.) for standing with the face to the west during this adjuration is that the west is the place of darkness; and Satan is darkness, and his kingdom is darkness. That the candidate turned his face to the east, and made his solemn confession of obedience to Christ, generally in these words', I give myself up to thee, O Christ, to be governed by thy laws." This was called promissum, pactum, or votum — a promise, a covenant, a vow. The face was turned to the east because, as Cyril tells his disciples, since they had renounced the devil, the paradise of God, which was planted in the east, and whence our first parents were driven for their transgression into banishment, was now laid open to them.

— Bingham, Orig. Ecclesiastes book 11, chapter 7, § 4; Farrar, Ecclesiastes Diet. s.v.

4. It is "a curious instance of the inveteracy of popular custom that in Scotland, where everything that savored of ancient usage was set aside as popish by the reformers, the practice of burying with the feet to the east was maintained in the old churchyards; nor is it uncommon still to set down churches with a scrupulous regard to east and west. In modern cemeteries in England and Scotland no attention appears to be paid to the old punctilio of interring with the feet to the east, the nature of the ground alone being considered in the disposition of graves" (Chambers, Encyclopaedia, s.v.). — Wheatly, On Common Prayer, chapter 2, § 2; Hook, Ecclesiastes Dict. s.v.; Bingham, Orig. Eccl. 13, 8:15. SEE CHURCH EDIFICES.

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