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Famine definitions

Webster's 1828 Dictionary

FAM'INE, n. [L. fames.]
1. Scarcity of food; dearth; a general want of provisions sufficient for the inhabitants of a country or besieged place.
There was a famine in the land. Genesis 26.
2. Want; destitution; as a famine of the word of life.

WordNet (r) 3.0 (2005)

n
1: an acute insufficiency [syn: dearth, famine, shortage]
2: a severe shortage of food (as through crop failure) resulting in violent hunger and starvation and death

Merriam Webster's

noun Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French, from feim, faim hunger, from Latin fames Date: 14th century 1. an extreme scarcity of food 2. archaic starvation 3. archaic a ravenous appetite 4. a great shortage

Oxford Reference Dictionary

n. 1 a extreme scarcity of food. b a shortage of something specified (water famine). 2 archaic hunger, starvation. Etymology: ME f. OF f. faim f. L fames hunger

Webster's 1913 Dictionary

Famine Fam"ine, n. [F. famine, fr. L. fames hunger; cf. Gr. ????? want, need, Skr. h[=a]ni loss, lack, h[=a] to leave.] General scarcity of food; dearth; a want of provisions; destitution. ``Worn with famine.'' --Milton. There was a famine in the land. --Gen. xxvi. 1. Famine fever (Med.), typhus fever.

Collin's Cobuild Dictionary

(famines) Famine is a situation in which large numbers of people have little or no food, and many of them die. Thousands of refugees are trapped by war, drought and famine... The civil war is obstructing distribution of famine relief by aid agencies. N-VAR

Easton's Bible Dictionary

The first mentioned in Scripture was so grievous as to compel Abraham to go down to the land of Egypt (Gen. 26:1). Another is mentioned as having occurred in the days of Isaac, causing him to go to Gerar (Gen. 26:1, 17). But the most remarkable of all was that which arose in Egypt in the days of Joseph, which lasted for seven years (Gen. 41-45).

Famines were sent as an effect of God's anger against a guilty people (2 Kings 8:1, 2; Amos 8:11; Deut. 28:22-42; 2 Sam. 21:1; 2 Kings 6:25-28; 25:3; Jer. 14:15; 19:9; 42:17, etc.). A famine was predicted by Agabus (Acts 11:28). Josephus makes mention of the famine which occurred A.D. 45. Helena, queen of Adiabene, being at Jerusalem at that time, procured corn from Alexandria and figs from Cyprus for its poor inhabitants.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

fam'-in (ra`abh; limos):

1. Natural Causes

2. Famines Mentioned

3. Divine Relations

4. Figurative Uses

The common Old Testament word for "famine" is ra`abh; re`abhon also occurs (Ge 42:19,33; Ps 37:19), and kaphan (Job 5:22; 30:3), all meaning "hunger" and "famine"; in the New Testament the word is limos, meaning primarily "failure," "want of food."

1. Natural Causes:

In early times, especially in lands dependent on their own productions, famines were not infrequent. They were generally caused by local irregularities of the rainfall, by destructive hail storms (Ex 9:23,11,32), by ravages of insects (Ex 10:15; Joe 1:4) and by enemies (De 28:51); in a city a famine might be caused by a siege (2Ki 6:25); pestilence often followed in its wake, and the suffering was great.

2. Famines Mentioned:

Famines are recorded in the time of Abraham (Ge 12:10, etc.), of Isaac (Ge 26:1), of Jacob, when Joseph was in Egypt--seven years of famine even in Egypt after seven of plenty (Ge 41:54), which also affected Canaan (Ge 42:1), and, indeed, "was over all the face of the earth" (Ge 41:56); in the time of the Judges (Ru 1:1), of David, for three years (2Sa 21:1), of Ahab and Elijah (1Ki 17:1; 18:2; Ecclesiasticus 48:2,3), of Elisha (2Ki 4:38), during the siege of Samaria (2Ki 6:25), the seven years foretold by Elisha (2Ki 8:1), in the reign of Zedekiah in Jerusalem when besieged by Nebuchadnezzar (2Ki 25:3; Jer 52:6; compare 14:1), its great severity is referred to (La 5:10; Baruch 2:25); a "dearth" is also mentioned after the return from Captivity (Ne 5:3); when the city was besieged by Antiochus Eupator (1 Macc 6:54), after the death of Judas (1 Macc 9:24), when Jerusalem was besieged by Simon (1 Macc 13:49), in the time of Claudius (Ac 11:28, in his reign there were frequent famines, one of which in 45 AD severely affected Palestine; Josephus, Ant, XX, v); Christ predicted "famines .... in divers places" as characterizing the end of the age (Mt 24:7; Mr 13:8; Lu 21:11); in the siege of Jerusalem by Titus a terrible famine raged, the consequences of which to the people have never been surpassed.

3. Divine Relations:

Famines are frequently said to be sent as punishments sometimes threatened as such (Le 26:19 f; De 28:49-51; 2Ki 8:1; Ps 105:16; Isa 14:30; 51:19; Jer 14:12,15; 18:21, etc.; Eze 5:16, etc.; Am 8:11; 2 Esdras 15:5,49; 16:19; Tobit 4:13; Ecclesiasticus 39:29; 40:9).

The righteous or godly should be preserved by God in time of famine (Job 5:20, "In famine he will redeem thee from death"; Ps 33:19, "to keep them alive in famine"; 37:19, "In the days of famine they shall be satisfied"); this was a special mark of the Divine favor and power.

4. Figurative Uses:

A famine is used by Amos to indicate the absence of Divine communications as a punishment that should come on the people, a "famine .... of hearing the words of Yahweh" (8:11; compare 1Sa 3:1; 28:6; 2Ch 15:3; Eze 7:26; Mic 3:6); by Zephaniah of the destruction of heathen deities (2:11).

The Revised Version (British and American) has "dearth" for "famine" (Job 5:22); "famine" for "dearth" (Ge 41:54; 2Ch 6:28; Ac 7:11; 11:28); for "hunger" (Jer 38:9; Eze 34:29; Re 6:8); "famines" for "famines and pestilences" (Mt 24:7), "famines and troubles" (Mr 13:8), revised texts.

W. L. Walker

Soule's Dictionary of English Synonyms

n. Dearth, scarcity of food.

Moby Thesaurus

absence, aridity, barrenness, beggary, birth control, contraception, dearth, defectiveness, deficiency, deficit, deprivation, destitution, drought, dry womb, dryness, exiguity, family planning, imperfection, impotence, impoverishment, incompleteness, ineffectualness, infecundity, infertility, lack, need, omission, paucity, planned parenthood, scarcity, shortage, shortcoming, shortfall, starvation, sterileness, sterility, unfertileness, unfruitfulness, unproductiveness, want, wantage, withered loins



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