WHAT DOES “ENVIRON” MEAN?
by Shawn Brasseaux
This is a Bible word found only once in the King James text, and is quite easy. Contrary to what we might think, “environ” is not an archaic word, but rather a formal term for another word with which we are extremely familiar.
Joshua 7:9 reads: “For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land shall hear of it, and shall environ us round, and cut off our name from the earth: and what wilt thou do unto thy great name?” What does “environ” mean?
Of course, a memory hint to aid us in comprehending this word is “environment,” taken from the Old French, literally “en”(“in”) and “viron” (“circuit”). An environment (noun) is the surroundings, so the verb form “environ” would therefore mean “to gather around or surround.” In the context of Joshua, the Jews have just lost their war with the city of Ai. Joshua fears that the Gentiles of the Promised Land, upon hearing the news, will enclose (encircle, encompass) Israel in battle and annihilate them. Related terms are “fetch a compass” and “in array” (see studies linked below).