What are “emerods?”


by Shawn Brasseaux

“Emerods” appears eight times in the King James Bible text. What are they? Let us “search the Scriptures!”

The first occurrence is Deuteronomy 28:27, God warning Israel if she does not obey His laws by faith: “The LORD will smite thee with the botch of Egypt, and with the emerods, and with the scab, and with the itch, whereof thou canst not be healed.” In keeping with the principle of Bible hermeneutics known as “the law of first mention,” we see that “emerods” has a negative connotation. It sits in the context of various bodily illnesses, horrific medical conditions. This is the first clue in helping us identify “emerods.”

Notice the remaining instances in Scripture:

  • 1 Samuel 5:6: “But the hand of the LORD was heavy upon them of Ashdod, and he destroyed them, and smote them with emerods, even Ashdod and the coasts thereof.”
  • 1 Samuel 5:9: “And it was so, that, after they had carried it about, the hand of the LORD was against the city with a very great destruction: and he smote the men of the city, both small and great, and they had emerods in their secret parts.”
  • 1 Samuel 5:12: “And the men that died not were smitten with the emerods: and the cry of the city went up to heaven.”
  • 1 Samuel 6:4: “Then said they, What shall be the trespass offering which we shall return to him? They answered, Five golden emerods, and five golden mice, according to the number of the lords of the Philistines: for one plague was on you all, and on your lords.” (This would not be a literal medical condition here, but rather physical representations made of gold.)
  • 1 Samuel 6:5: “Wherefore ye shall make images of your emerods, and images of your mice that mar the land; and ye shall give glory unto the God of Israel: peradventure he will lighten his hand from off you, and from off your gods, and from off your land.”
  • 1 Samuel 6:11: “And they laid the ark of the LORD upon the cart, and the coffer with the mice of gold and the images of their emerods.” (This would not be a literal medical condition here, but rather physical representations made of gold.)
  • 1 Samuel 6:17: “And these are the golden emerods which the Philistines returned for a trespass offering unto the LORD; for Ashdod one, for Gaza one, for Askelon one, for Gath one, for Ekron one;” (This would not be a literal medical condition here, but rather physical representations made of gold.)

According to Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary, “emerods” in Hebrew is either טְחֹר; tĕchor (#H2914) or עֹפֶל; `ophel (#H6076). The Hebrew root word rendered “emerods” carries the idea of “swelling” or “mound.” It is the “tower” of 2 Kings 5:24. It is the “fort” of Isaiah 32:14. It is the “strong hold” of Micah 4:8. So, it is becoming clear that “emerods” are some type of bodily affiction that resemble “towers” or “swellings.”

In light of what has gone before, the closest word to “emerods” with which we would be familiar is “tumors.” A “tumor” is “a swelling of a part of the body, generally without inflammation, caused by an abnormal growth of tissue, whether benign or malignant.” The following subentry is also found in The Oxford English Dictionary: “(archaic) a swelling of any kind.”

Without getting too graphic, we want to further comment on 1 Samuel 5:9: “they had emerods in their secret parts.” The “secret parts” are actually the genitals, so the idea here would be hemorrhoids. Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary (#H2914) says: “from an unused root meaning to burn; a boil or ulcer (from the inflammation), especially a tumor in the anus or pudenda (the piles):—emerod.” The Oxford English Dictionary defines “haemorrhoid” (U.S. “hemorrhoid”) as: “a swollen vein or group of veins in the region on the anus. Also (collectively) called piles.” Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon has the following: “pl. tumours of the anus, haemorrhoidal mariscae, protruding from the anus, protruding through tenesmus in voiding.” “Tenesmus” is defined as “a continual or recurrent inclination to evacuate the bowels, caused by disorder of the rectum or other illness.”

Like “the botch of Egypt,” “the emerods” are something you do not want!

Also see:
» What is “the botch of Egypt?”
» Why did Israel have to keep so many strange laws?
» What was wrong with Leah’s eyes?