Abarim Publications' online Biblical Greek Dictionary
The curiously versatile verb ρυω (ruo) is common in the classics and describes the complicated process of stretching some kind of protective barrier (some physical thing, a collection of weapons, a spell) between a vulnerable entity and an aggressive one. Sometimes the context indicates that merely the covering is implied (without the element of active protecting), whereas in other contexts the actual covering is pretty much left out and our verb is all about the protecting or even the extracting and delivering of some precious target. Often our verb merely describes the warding off of some assailant, and sometimes it's used to describe the mere thwarting of some intention or course of action, without identifying a particular victim so served.
Our verb may speak of a cure, which rescues the patient from some disease. As such our verb may mean to liberate or set free from. And on occasion it may even speak of redemption and compensation, in the sense that the actor of this verb assumes the role of victim, absorbs the destructive momentum and takes off with it, leaving the vulnerable party thus freed.
This verb ρυω (ruo) does not occur in the New Testament, but from it stem the following:
- The noun ρυμη (rume), meaning rush or swing of a body in motion. It may describe the rush of wings (albeit the wings of a giant beetle in a play by Aristophanes), or that of a potter's wheel, of a ship cleaving the waves, of soldiers charging or even of blood coursing through veins. Still, our noun predominantly speaks of some thrusting force that separates whatever it penetrates, and came to denote a street that cuts through a city or settlement. And that is how our noun in used in the New Testament: the main thoroughfare that cuts through the city and upon which all traffic converges. It occurs 4 times; see full concordance. Note that streets form naturally, from traffic, which in turn is the "majority vote" of all separate travelers in their collective attempt to find the best way to traverse the landscape.
- The verb ρυομαι (ruomai), which is really the middle deponent of the parent verb ρυω (ruo), to deliver (see above) — and a middle deponent verb is a verb that is passive in form but in English translations ends up with an active meaning, largely due to English lacking the sophistication to keep up with the depth and elegance of Greek. Middle verbs are verbs that describe a subject doing something for herself, toward herself or in her own interest. In our present case, this would suggest that the protector (the subject of our verb) engages in the act of redeeming or saving someone or drawing someone to herself, not because the object understands what's going on or has expressed the desire to be put out of harm's way, but because the subject does. Romans 11:26 quotes Isaiah 59:20, which uses the Hebrew noun גאל (go'el), redeemer (Ruth 2:20, Job 19:25), from the verb גאל (ga'al), to redeem or ransom (Leviticus 25:25, Numbers 35:19; see our article on the verb קלט, qalat, for more on blood-avenging and cities of refuge).
Another striking usage of our verb occurs in Matthew 6:13, where Jesus famously prays: "Deliver us from evil". Certain very primitive forms of Christianity are unfortunately quite pagan, and venerate a five-headed pantheon (Father, Son, Sprit, Mother and satan) plus a score of demi-gods in the form of saints. The Bible, of course, is entirely monotheistic, and in the words of Isaiah: "I am YHWH and there is no other; the One forming light and creating darkness, causing peace (שלום, shalom, literally: completeness or wholeness) and creating evil (רעע, ra'a', brokenness)." Polytheists believe that satan (or the evil "one") is some kind of anti-god, which is wholly absurd, since created reality is monopolar and converges entirely upon the Creator, who is One and whose Oneness extends well into his creation, like a city of light surrounded by the howling infinite of ever darkening darkness. Whatever exists outside the Oneness of God exists in the brokenness of the outer darkness, and reality there is chaotic, senseless, lawless and meaningless. The name Beelzebub means Lord of the Flies and is a joke name, since everybody knows that flies don't recognize authority or follow commands. Flies are chaotic and anarchistic little pests, utterly bound by their ignorance and their natural desire for excrement and dead things. Freedom exists within the Oneness of God, within the light of reason and within the governance of law (see our article on ελευθερια, eleutheria, meaning freedom-by-law). The outer darkness is obviously (painfully obviously) not centered on some deviously scheming anti-god. The word for "evil" used in Matthew 6:13 literally means "whatever impedes". Our verb ρυομαι (ruomai), "to deliver" speaks of the Creator's literally "self-centered" motive: He draws the vulnerable from the chaotic outer darkness onto himself, into the Oneness of Him (see John 17:21-23 and 12:32).
This magnificent verb is used 18 times; see full concordance.
- The noun ρυτις (rutis), which describes a pucker or wrinkle in a cloth: the structure that emerges when a spread-out cloth is gathered onto a central point of convergence, yet in such a way that different regions of the cloth are trying to occupy the same space. This word is used in Ephesians 5:27 only, where Paul describes the church as having no wrinkles: no uneven distribution of resources, no shortages anywhere and no accumulations elsewhere.