Clap Hands | The Institute for Creation Research
Clap Hands

"Men shall clap their hands at him, and shall hiss him out of his place" (Job 27:23).

The modern-day practice of clapping hands has gone through quite an evolution (pardon the expression!) in its meaning. Today it is commonly an expression of applause for a musical or dramatic performance of some kind. It is also often used by audiences as a sort of percussion accompaniment to rhythmic music or dancing.

The Biblical meaning of clapping hands, however, was quite different. In the King James Bible, the expression occurs nine times, but as a translation of four different Hebrew verbs. The first occurrence is in our text (the Hebrew verb is saphag), and here Job is referring to it as a means of expressing strong disapproval of wicked men.

A second verb is taqa, meaning to "slap." It is the one used in Nahum 3:19, speaking of the coming destruction of Nineveh: ". . . all that hear the bruit of thee shall clap the hands over thee: for upon whom hath not thy wickedness passed continually?" God also warned the Ammonites of coming punishment: "Because thou hast clapped thine hands, and stamped with the feet, and rejoiced in heart with all thy despite against the land of Israel" (Ezekiel 25:6). Here the verb is maka.

The fourth verb used for clapping is nakah, as found in II Kings 11:12, where it says "they clapped their hands" at the coronation of six-year-old Joash. This is the sole use of this particular word in the Bible and was expressing their intent to smite and destroy wicked Queen Althaliah, replacing her with the rightful king, six-year-old Joash.

Thus all four of the Biblical words conveyed a negatively violent attitude, not one of approval or pleasure. A better way of appreciation could in many cases be simply a heartfelt vocal "Amen" or "Praise the Lord." HMM

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