WHAT DOES “DESCRY” MEAN?
by Shawn Brasseaux
Judges 1:23 has, “And the house of Joseph sent to descry Bethel. (Now the name of the city before was Luz.)” What does “descry” mean?
There are two hints to the definition. “Descry” sounds like a more familiar word. Think of “describe”—although this is a different etymology. The Old French “descrier” means “to proclaim.”
Another way to approach the word is to read the verse before and the verse after: “ And the house of Joseph, they also went up against Bethel: and the LORD was with them….  And the spies saw a man come forth out of the city, and they said unto him, Shew us, we pray thee, the entrance into the city, and we will shew thee mercy.” Jewish spies have been sent to the city of Bethel. What do spies do? Do they not gather information? What is necessary to describe something? Is not information important in that regard? They are mapping out or searching out the area, thereby qualified to proclaim or announce its traits.