What does “several” mean in the King James Bible?


by Shawn Brasseaux

In 13 verses, the Authorized Version translators employ the term “several.” It is an excellent vocabulary word, an accurate rendering of the proper Hebrew and Greek texts. We just need to note the correct definition, lest we misunderstand the relevant passages of Scripture. The sense is not “more than two.” Our English word actually comes to us through the Medieval Latin “separalis,” with “separ” conveying the idea of “separate, different.” Related terms are “sever” and “severance” (cutting off). The overall concept focuses on the formation or function of individuals. With that background, read the “several” verses now:

  • Numbers 28:13: “And a several tenth deal of flour mingled with oil for a meat offering unto one lamb; for a burnt offering of a sweet savour, a sacrifice made by fire unto the LORD.”
  • Numbers 28:21: “A several tenth deal shalt thou offer for every lamb, throughout the seven lambs:….”
  • Numbers 28:29: “A several tenth deal unto one lamb, throughout the seven lambs;….”
  • Numbers 29:10: “A several tenth deal for one lamb, throughout the seven lambs:….”
  • Numbers 29:15: “And a several tenth deal to each lamb of the fourteen lambs:….”
  • 2 Kings 15:5: “And the LORD smote the king, so that he was a leper unto the day of his death, and dwelt in a several house. And Jotham the king’s son was over the house, judging the people of the land.” (In accordance with the Law of Moses, Leviticus chapters 13–14, leprous King Azariah/Uzziah was quarantined or isolated. See also 2 Chronicles 26:21 below.)
  • 2 Chronicles 11:12: “And in every several city he put shields and spears, and made them exceeding strong, having Judah and Benjamin on his side.”
  • 2 Chronicles 26:21: “And Uzziah the king was a leper unto the day of his death, and dwelt in a several house, being a leper; for he was cut off from the house of the LORD: and Jotham his son was over the king’s house, judging the people of the land.” (See note at 2 Kings 15:5 above.)
  • 2 Chronicles 28:25: “And in every several city of Judah he made high places to burn incense unto other gods, and provoked to anger the LORD God of his fathers.”
  • 2 Chronicles 31:19: “Also of the sons of Aaron the priests, which were in the fields of the suburbs of their cities, in every several city, the men that were expressed by name, to give portions to all the males among the priests, and to all that were reckoned by genealogies among the Levites.”
  • Matthew 25:15: “And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.”
  • 1 Corinthians 12:11: “But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.”
  • Revelation 21:21: “And the twelve gates were twelve pearls: every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass.”

Also see:
» What does “joined hard” mean in Acts 18:7?
» How was Tarsus “no mean city?”
» Can you define “carriage” in the King James Bible?