Abarim Publications' Biblical Dictionary: The New Testament Greek word: αλισκω

Source: https://www.abarim-publications.com/DictionaryG/a/a-l-i-s-k-om.html


Abarim Publications' online Biblical Greek Dictionary


The verb αλισκω (alisko) or αλισκομαι (aliskomai) means to be caught or captured. It ultimately stems from the Proto-Indo-European root "welh-", to hit or strike, from which German gets its noun Falle (trap) and English its verb to fall; hence the "fallen" and Norse terms like Valhalla and Valkyrie, all to do with fallen braves (which immediately also explains that in antiquity, captivity meant death rather than imprisonment, or at least for males).

However, a creative speaker of Koine might be excused for sensing a close association between this verb's primary derived noun, namely αλωσις (alosis), see next, and a large cluster of words that have to do with circles and which also yielded our English word "halo" and the noun αλων (halon), threshing floor (see below). To such a creative Koine speaker, our noun αλωσις (alosis) would rather mean a "rounding up" and "treading out" of usual suspects: whatever gets gathered, clustered, mushed and squeezed by whatever snare or noose or military encirclement.

Our verb is not used independently in the New Testament but from it come the following:

  • The aforementioned noun αλωσις (alosis), meaning a capture (a capturing), either in the sense of an army's conquest or a hunter's catching a bird or a fish. As a legal term, this word means conviction. This word occurs in the New Testament in 2 Peter 2:12 only, in a context that brings to mind a story that would also be told by Plutarch (Num.15), of two demi-gods, father Picus and son Faunus (whose names obviously remind of "birds" and "animals"), who were "fast caught and could not escape" and hence told king Numa (who succeeded Romulus as king of Rome) many secrets of the supernatural world. Like the story of Noah, this story of king Numa clearly meditates on the rise of human intelligence from the animal world (also see our article on Aeneas). From this noun comes:
    • The adjective αιχμαλωτος (aichmalotos), meaning captive or taken captive at spear-point. See this word's discussion below.
  • Together with the preposition ανα (ana), meaning on, upon or again-and-again: the verb αναλισκω (analisko), meaning to use up, spend, execute, waste or cook-and-consume: the things that happen to any creature upon its capture (Luke 9:54, Galatians 5:15 and 2 Thessalonians 2:8 only). From this verb in turn come:
    • Together with the preposition κατα (kata), meaning down: the verb καταναλισκω (katanalisko), meaning to spent or consume wholly upon capture (Hebrews 12:29 only).
    • Together with the prefix προς (pros), which describes a motion toward: the verb προσαναλισκω (prosanalisko), meaning to consume to some purpose or objective, upon capture (Luke 8:43 only).

The adjective αιχμαλωτος (aichmalotos) means captive or taken captive at spear-point (Luke 4:18 only), specifically as prisoner of war or war booty, which usually consisted of women and valuable goods (to men of fighting age, capture equaled death). Our word consists of two components, the latter of which being the noun αλωσις (alosis), discussed above.

The first part of our adjective αιχμαλωτος (aichmalotos) stems from the noun αιχμα (aichma), which is very often translated as "spear" but which in the classics is frequently deployed to refer to an entire company of soldiers, their fighting spirit or even the battle itself. This is because our word αιχμα (aichma) does not so much refer to the spear as an individual weapon but rather as signature instrument of a formation of soldiers: a interwoven hedge of deeply disciplined fighters whose personal identities are overwhelmed by an all-consuming fidelity to their company, and who derive their actions from their years of training, military wisdom and concern for the man to their left, rather than from their immediate feelings and private impulses.

A more specific word for spear or spear-head is λογχη (logche), which is laden with a sense of government. The same goes for the many kur- words, like curia and κυριος (kurios), which means both spear and spear-carrier or "mister" or "lord". In our article on the name Tigris, from tigra, pointy thing, we explain how in the Indo-European languages pointy things relate to formal government. A similar bias is noted in the words ακρον (akron), extremity, and ακη (ake), point (hence the term Acropolis, the highest point of a city: physically but also governmentally).

These latter few words stem from the Proto-Indo-European root "hek-", sharp. Our noun αιχμα (aichma), however, stems from the PIE root "heyk-", to obtain or come to possess. That immediately reminds of the Hebrew verb קנה (qana), to acquire or assemble, from which comes the noun קין (qayin), meaning spear (hence the name Cain) but a spear in the sense that it symbolizes a unified assembly of spear-carrying men — not only as a formidable multifarious military force but also as a governmental body: the proto-senate or curia. All this implies that our noun αιχμα (aichma) not so much denotes one physical spear but rather an assembly of items captured by a capturing and driving body: a crown of thorns, if you will. From this same PIE root "heyk-" stems the Germanic noun aihtiz, meaning possessions or property, from which in turn derives the German noun "Fracht" (cargo) and the English equivalent "freight".

All this implies that our adjective αιχμαλωτος (aichmalotos) not so much describes a solitary prisoner or a fettered slave, but rather a group of unfortunates who let themselves get captured collectively, then reduced to property and subsequently driven around like cargo. In antiquity, people like this would eventually end up on the slave market. In the modern age, this word probably describes detrimental forms of group think: anything from vapid conspiracy theories to mass panics generated by propaganda machines that are driven by a slick few (in order to sell products and secure votes).

But obviously, this word is not always negative: if one is "enslaved" by Christ (1 Corinthians 7:22), and Christ's primary purpose is his people's freedom (Galatians 5:1, John 8:36), then one may find oneself "captivated" by all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3) and "driven" solely by the Spirit of Freedom (2 Corinthians 3:17).

From our adjective αιχμαλωτος (aichmalotos), captive, derive:

  • The noun αιχμαλωσια (aichmalosia), which describes the state of collective captivity (Ephesians 4:8 and Revelation 13:10 only).
  • The verb αιχμαλωτευω (aichmaloteuo), meaning to collectively capture or be in a collective state of captivity (Ephesians 4:8 and 2 Timothy 3:6 only). In Ephesians 4:8, Paul writes that Christ (who is indivisibly One, yet whose Body consists of many: Ephesians 4:3-6) captured captivity, which is like saying he enslaved slavery or killed death. In the same sense, "writing about text" or "thinking about thought" makes the doing dependent on the thing done in some feat of existential juggling, which is not unlike the relationship between the Utterly Other Creator and the creation that exists within him: Acts 17:28. God is "I AM," which is fancy way of talking about (self-)consciousness, and self-consciousness is the curious effect of being utterly formed by and dependent on one's environment, so that I AM equals THAT WHICH I AM NOT. Consciousness begins precisely where logic ends, namely in the paradox of a = !a (a equals not-a), which itself is perfectly logical, as if in the death of the Logos, the Logos resurrects in the trans-rational dimension of the self-and-other-conscious self (Matthew 7:12).
  • The verb αιχμαλωτιζω (aichmalotiza), meaning to collectively captivate, to lead onto a state of collective captivity (Luke 21:24, Romans 7:23 and 2 Corinthians 10:5 only).
  • Together with the preposition συν (sun), meaning together or with: the adjective συναιχμαλωτος (sunaichmalotos), meaning fellow (collective) captive (Romans 16:7, Colossians 4:10 and Philemon 1:23 only).

The noun αλων (halon), sometimes spelled αλωσ (halos), means threshing floor or threshing ring: a facility where a circle of workers gather around a heap of collected grain to beat and toss it until it is clear of bits of leaves and stems and other such debris (Matthew 3:12 and Luke 3:17 only). The emphasis of our word lies on the circle, and thus on the decided joint and harmonic effort of the workers who beat and toss the grain (obviously a metaphor of a righteous government, a government of teachers).

Our word is of unknown origin — probably pre-Greek and possibly Semitic; the word אלון ('allon) or ('elon), oak or terebinth, comes to mind (see our article on the many Hebrew roots of the Greek language) — but in the classics our noun αλων (halon) also appears to describe the circular sun or moon disk: from this usage stems our English word "halo". Our word has also been found to refer to a serpent's coil, a bird's nest, the muscle inside the eye that controls the shape of the lens, and the circular piazza at Delphi.

That means that our word not so much emphasizes what happens to the grain, but rather the circular harmony of the workers that are working the grain. Our noun relates to evergreens such as "the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few" (Matthew 9:37) and "the saints will judge the world" (1 Corinthians 6:2) but also "satan has asked to sift you as wheat" (Luke 22:31). Also see our article on αρτος (artos), meaning bread.

Closely related to our noun is the verb αλοιαω (aloiao), to thresh, tread on or smite. This verb is rare in the classics and not used in the New Testament, but from it comes:

  • Together with the familiar word μητηρ (meter), mother: the noun μητραλωας (metraloas), meaning mother-thresher (1 Timothy 1:9 only). The curious use of this particular verb seems to imply an emphasis on the cooperation of children who conspire to (literally or figuratively) thresh, i.e. excessively burden or demand from their mother.
  • Together with the familiar noun πατηρ (pater), father: the noun πατραλωας (patraloas), meaning one who threshes/smites his father (1 Timothy 1:9 only).

The verb αλοαω (aloao) means to tread out of specifically corn (1 Corinthians 9:9-10 and 1 Timothy 5:18 only). It's formally not related to the previous (or known to be so) but for people less concerned with formal etymology, the correlation is obvious. Like αληθω (aletho), to grind or bruise (see directly below), our verb stems from a Proto-Indo-European root "helh-", to grind or pound. A variant (not used in the New Testament) is αλεω (aleo), which is also a variant of the verb αλεομαι (aleomai), to avoid or shun, which in turn relates to the noun αλεα (alea), escape.

αλεω  αληθω

The verb αληθω (aletho) means to grind or bruise (Matthew 24:41 and Luke 17:35 only). It's an equivalent of the aforementioned verb αλεω (aleo), to grind (different Greek dialect, unused in the New Testament), and, like αλοαω (aloao), to tread out (see directly above), stems from a widely attested Proto-Indo-European root "helh-", to grind, bruise, pound. But in this form αληθω (aletho), our verb exhibits an uncanny resemblance to the verb αληθευω (aletheuo), to be genuine or truthful, from αληθης (alethes), to be without secrets (from λανθανω, lanthano, to be concealed or unknown about).

These two verbs are not formally related but on any Greek poet's pallet, the act of grinding corn into flour — see our article on the noun μυλη (mule), meaning mill — may have seemed pleasingly similar to the act of grinding observations into words (which is what the human ratio does: finding attributes that things have in common and then attach a word to that; the word "apple" sums up all things endowed with "appleness"). Grinding corn into flour is not unlike mushing grapes into wine (Isaiah 5:1). And grinding corn into flour, then kneading it into dough (φυραμα, phurama) and baking that into bread in fire (πυρ, pur) is not unlike doing science (from σχιζω, schizo, to break, split or divide).

That means that the two women grinding corn (and femininity expresses community, whereas masculinity expresses individuality), are communities of truth-seekers. Since Gödel and Turing we moderns know that there are hard limits to logic and computation. That means that any system that is based on axioms (all math, logic and philosophy) must always remain incomplete. And that leaves only fiction and the grand jury of the open market to reflect truly everything. The ancients knew that the whole of humanity is a so-called smart swarm, and although every single mind is limited, together we know everything, provided we have learned to express ourselves in a globally accepted set of standards (see our article on the magnificent word μυθος, muthos, story or myth).

From the unused verb αλεω (aleo) comes:

  • The noun αλευρον (aleuron), the product of grinding: fine flour, as depository for the leaven that represents the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 13:33 and Luke 13:21 only).

The noun σεμιδαλις (semidales) means fine flour (Revelation 18:13 only). It's the Semitic equivalent of the previous word, a transliteration of the Aramaic noun סמידא (semida), which appears to correspond to the Hebrew קמח סלת (qemah solet) as used in Genesis 18:6.


The adjective απαλος (apalos) means soft, tender or delicate (Matthew 24:32 and Mark 13:28 only). In the classics, this word may describe the touch of a soft human body, a slab of tender meat, a gentle fire, a timid laugh, and so on. In negative contrast to brave, burly and muscled hunks, this word could describe nerdy weakness or soft pussiness.

It's an entire mystery where this word comes from. Here at Abarim Publications we don't know either, but if we were to guess we would guess that a creative Koine speaker might have assumed it had something to do with the words directly above: noun αλων (halon) and verbs αλοιαω (aloiao) and αλοαω (aloao), all descriptive of harmonic and consorted pummeling, which, as many a nerd will attest, is painfully common in certain circles, and any butcher will confirm turns any slab of flesh into a tender steak. The creative Koine speaker might further have assumed that our adjective is a compound, formed from the prefix απο (apo), meaning from. But all of this would be a smattering of folksy hunches with no claim to sound theory.


The noun αλωπηξ (alompex) means fox (Matthew 8:20, Luke 9:58 and 13:32 only). Foxes are canines and although domesticated canines had helped to build the modern world, wild ones and particularly small ones, were universally despised. Hence the fox has been a symbol for cunning and deceit since deep antiquity.

The Hebrew word for fox stems from a root that means low or hollow, namely שועל (shu'al), literally a Low-Life or Bottom-Dweller. This Hebrew word is always masculine, but it needs to be noted that in Hebrew, the genders function quite differently than in the mind of us moderns (and that of the ancient Greeks, from which our modern leanings derive). In Hebrew, masculinity is the tendency toward individuality and femininity is the tendency toward collectivity — which is why governing kings were always masculine (and God too), whereas the governed populus (and thus the Bride of Christ) is feminine. But that also associated masculinity with lawfulness and thus wisdom (science is law-based, and so is language) and discipline and rationally calculated actions, and femininity with intuition, emotion, empiricism and impulsive foolishness (and to preempt objections: in classical Hebrew, men could be feminine and women could be masculine).

Our Greek word for fox, αλωπηξ (alompex), rather to the contrary, is always feminine (so it's either just "fox" or specifically αρσενικη αλεπου, arsenike alepou, "male fox"). This is rather striking because the Greek word for dog, κυων (kuon), may either be masculine or feminine (depending on whether we're discussing a bitch or a stud). And moreover, the word for wolf, λυκος (lukos), is always masculine (it's either just "wolf" or specifically λυκαινα, lukaina "wolf-ess"). In the Greek mind, foxes were girlie pussies, weak and scared, perhaps cute to look at but dangerously deceptive and perpetually conniving. And entirely uncontrollable.

As we discuss at length in our article on the noun κυων (kuon), dog, one of the most dominant motifs in the Bible is that of the shepherd (ποιμην, poimen), whose government of the herds extends into his dog. The shepherds of our modern world are obviously the proverbial wise, who take their cues from God alone and are otherwise completely sovereign and decentralized (and sport no flags or symbols, territories or borders, thrones or titles, headquarters, membership cards, mailing lists, secret handshakes or any of that). The dogs of our world are the formal governments (who adore flags, titles and regalia), plus their law-enforcing military and police, and clergy, and bankers. The dogs have no real clue about what's going on, but good ones do as they are told, and bad ones get deposed by good ones.

When Jesus called Herod a fox (Luke 13:32), he wasn't simply calling him names (as some commentators curiously maintain) but rather reckoned him the undisciplined head of a weak local pussy government, barely domesticated and most of the time cowering in a hole, utterly unaware of what the actual shepherds are up to or how to appease the much greater wolf brooding in Rome, who too, in time, would be deposed by domesticated canines.

It's entirely unclear where our word comes from, from which language or even whether it's Indo-European, Semitic or something else altogether — our English word "fox" may stem from a PIE word for tail, whereas the Latin "vulpes" appears to be related to the PIE root that also gave us the word "wolf". Our noun αλωπηξ (alompex) may be based on some Indo-European word for wolf (perhaps meaning whimpy-wolf, or something like that) but which one and what modifying element(s) this entails remains a mystery.

But as we discuss at length in our article on Isaac and at even greater length in our e-book on How The Mind Works, the world is essentially divided in flat-footers and toe-walkers. The toe-walkers are fear-driven and the flat-footers are home-bound. We humans are flat-footers (we apes are closely related to mice and rabbits and such), which is why we live in houses. Animals that live in holes literally depend on their imagination to establish whether the world outside is safe to venture out into, which may explain why sapiens evolved in the dreamy flat-foot branch of life. Burrow-dwellers are natural mystics.

Toe-walkers such as cows and sheep and deer and such hate to be indoors because they can only assess their world from direct observations, and are therefore hyper-vigilant and entirely reactionary. Dogs are toe-walkers and are closely related to herd-animals. Bears are basically big dogs. But they also converted, late in an evolutionary sense, to flat-footery and home-dwelling. In the great agricultural metaphor in which domesticated dogs are human governments, bears equate to Greek philosophers. Foxes are toe-walkers (vigilant and reactionary), but they also live in holes (pondering the mysteries), but the latter out of cowardice and predatory self-service rather than a desire to attain true mystic intelligence, to ultimately govern the world as a race of shepherds that collectively converses with God.

The Greek alphabet is essentially an adaptation of the Hebrew one, and was likely imported into the Greek language basin along with a slew of handy wisdom terms to jump-start the later so famous Greek wisdom tradition. That said, the verb אלף ('alep) means to learn or teach. Postfixed with the כ (ke), meaning you, the compound אלפך (allepek) would mean "I will teach you". This compound occurs in Job 33:33, as spoken by Elihu, the younger (i.e. smaller or lesser) of the four friends of the unfortunate Job, whose tale of woe is obviously presented in the form of a fable in which Eliphaz is the elephant, Zophar is the bird and Bildad is the grazing herd animal. In this story, satan plays the role of predatory beast. And Job is clearly a very early Homo sapiens, emerging from the animal world but still learning about the world from his many animal friends.

Since deep antiquity, the fox was regarded as slippery and deceitful as the moon among the celestial lights. The name of Jacob's deceitful uncle Laban means white and is the masculine version of the feminine noun לבנה (lebana), meaning moon. The Hebrew (and Aramaic) word for milk is חלב (halab), which in Greek is γαλα (gala), hence the word galaxy or Milky Way; a derived noun חלבון (helbon) describes egg white, hence the city called Helbon (Ezekiel 27:18). It may be that these words have something to do with the name Aleppo, the city in Syria, perhaps reminiscent of an ancient center of learning (albeit considered elementary by some).

The same dynamic that carries the story of Jacob and Laban (and his two daughters Rachel and Leah who gave Israel his twelve zodiac-like sons), carries the story of Samson (means Sun Man) and the deceitful Delilah (Hanger, "Foxy Low-Life"), and obviously also informs the dynamic between good-shepherd Jesus-the-Light and Herod-the-Fox (also see our article on the name Chuza for the link with the feminine aspect that facilitates the masculine twelve).