Consumed – definition

consumed definition
Correctly understanding these terms leads to a better
understanding of the character of God and the Gospel.

This study focuses on “consumed” translated from the Hebrew word “tamam” (H8552) because of its use in Deuteronomy 2:15. Note that there are other Hebrew words translated as “consumed.”

Traditional Legal Model: Commonly thought to be the result of God’s destructive work to punish His people or their enemies as seen in:

“For indeed the hand of the LORD was against them, to destroy them from among the host, until they were consumed.” (Deut 2:15)

Biblical Healing Model: In this case, “consumed” is a reference to the point in time (note the word “until”) when all the men of war that had rebelled at Kadesh (Num 14:22-23, 34) were deceased. It is simply a way of saying that the process of them dying off was finished or completed according to this definition:

Consumed is from H8552 תמם tamam taw-mam’
a primitive root; v;
AV-consume 26, end 9, finished 4, clean 3, upright 3,
spent 3, perfect 2, done 2, failed 2, accomplish 2, misc 8; 64
1) to be complete, be finished, be at an end
1a) (Qal)
1a1) to be finished, be completed
1a1a) completely, wholly, entirely (as auxiliary with verb)
1a2) to be finished, come to an end, cease
1a3) to be complete (of number)
1a4) to be consumed, be exhausted, be spent
1a5) to be finished, be consumed, be destroyed
1a6) to be complete, be sound, be unimpaired, be upright (ethically)
1a7) to complete, finish
1a8) to be completely crossed over

The common understanding, at least of its use in Deuteronomy 2:15, is shown by this commentary:

“His power was exerted in a way of wrath and vengeance on them, for their murmurings at the report of the spies; and therefore, it is no wonder they were consumed, for strong is his hand, and high is his right hand; and when lifted up it falls heavy, and there is no standing up under it, or against it: and thus, by one stroke after another, he went on to destroy them from among the host until they were consumed …” (Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible on Deut 2:15)

However, here is another, quite different use of “tamam”:

“And the whole house he overlaid with gold, until he had finished (H8552) all the house: also the whole altar that was by the oracle he overlaid with gold.” (1 Kings 6:22)

In that and many other uses, it means finished or completed – basically the opposite of destroyed. The Hebrew word “tamam” (H8552) is used 64 times in 62 verses and is translated as “consume” or “consumed” in 26 cases. At times, it is necessary to look at every use of a word to carefully determine what the Bible means or does not mean in its use. See all uses of “tamam.”

From that analysis, it can be seen that “tamam” refers to being physically destroyed or killed in only 9% of its uses and it is never used of a killing by God. There is no reason to understand “consumed” in Deuteronomy 2:15 to mean that generation of warriors was actively killed by God. Such would not be consistent with the meaning of other key words in Deuteronomy 2:15 nor with His forgiving, merciful character.

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