Who are the “confectionaries” in 1 Samuel 8:13?


by Shawn Brasseaux

There is an interesting term in 1 Samuel 8:13 in the Authorized Version King James Bible—“And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers.” Israel’s daughters will become their king’s “confectionaries.” Precisely what are they?

Indeed, we often use the word “confection” to refer to a sweet or sugary food—candies, cookies, cakes, pastries, and so on. However, that is a specific type of confection. A “confection,” generally speaking, is anything “confected” or “put together from various materials.” It does not have to be sugar-based, and it does not even have to be food either. “Confect” can be traced back to at least the 1300s, the word coming from Middle English “confecten,” which simply meant “to prepare by combining ingredients, blend, spice, or sweeten.” Medieval Latin also influenced this definition, with “conficere” meaning “to bring together, compose, compound (a drug or medication).” It is this latter sense that should be understood in the aforementioned Bible verse.

In 1 Samuel 8:13, “confectionaries” in Hebrew is a feminine (female) noun—“raqawhawh.” We find the masculine (male) version, “raqqah,” in Nehemiah 3:8: “Next unto him repaired Uzziel the son of Harhaiah, of the goldsmiths. Next unto him also repaired Hananiah the son of one of the apothecaries, and they fortified Jerusalem unto the broad wall.” We have now established that “apothecaries” and “confectionaries” are equivalent. A related word is “raqooakh,” rendered “perfumes” in Isaiah 57:9: “And thou wentest to the king with ointment, and didst increase thy perfumes, and didst send thy messengers far off, and didst debase thyself even unto hell.” By the way, our English word “apothecary” is just as old as “confect”—from the 1300s—and also derived from the Latin language. An “apothecarius” was “a seller of spices and drugs.”

Taking all the above into consideration, we see “confectionaries” as its sits in the King James text refers to perfume- or ointment-makers, men and women who confected or combined compounds. There is no mistake, no mistranslation, in the King James Bible. If ever we encounter words in the Authorized Version we do not understand, we simply do some study and learn. We take a Bible concordance and look up related verses. We open an English dictionary, and/or a Hebrew dictionary, and/or a Greek dictionary, and/or a Latin dictionary, and we do research—with the English King James Bible always being the final authority and not corrected (!). However, it is far easier to nitpick and complain like so many have been trained to do: “I do not understand! What a ‘poor’ translation! A ‘better’ word is….” This is doubt, unbelief. It is not faith. In the grand scheme of things, we do well by learning a new word, expanding our vocabulary, and thereby better appreciating the English language and our translators’ grasp of it. “But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant” (1 Corinthians 14:38).

Also see:
» Can you define “carriage” in the King James Bible?
» Is “corn” a mistake in the King James Bible?
» Is the King James word “borrow” a “mistranslation” in Exodus 3:22?