Prove all things; hold fast that which is good, I Thessalonians 5:21.
The following essay was sent to me by Cory Jackson, the Youth Pastor at the Lakewood Baptist Church of Powderly, Texas.
"Lothe" and "Loathe"
Not long ago, I was reading in Ezekiel chapter 6, and I noticed an unusual word. Ezekiel 6:9, because I am broken with their whorish heart, which hath departed from me, and with their eyes, which go a whoring after their idols: and they shall lothe themselves for the evils which they have committed in all their abominations.
The word “lothe” is what caught my attention. Or, to be more precise, the spelling of it is what caused me to pause and consider it. Every other source in which I had read this word, spelled it “loathe”. But the King James Bible spells it “lothe”. Sure, it’s only a one-letter difference, but knowing that the KJB is perfect, I began to wonder why it was spelled this way.
With a quick search, I excitedly learned that the word “loathe” is also in the Bible! Aha! Another treasure to explore in the unsearchable riches of Christ.
Neither one of these words is used often in the Bible. The word “lothe” appears 4 times. “Lothed” is used 3 times, and “lotheth” is only in the Bible once. Below are the verses where this word or one of its forms appears:
Exodus 7:18 And the fish that is in the river shall die, and the river shall stink; and the Egyptians shall lothe to drink of the water of the river.
Jeremiah 14:19 Hast thou utterly rejected Judah? hath thy soul lothed Zion?
Ezekiel 6:9, and they shall lothe themselves for the evils which they
have committed in all their abominations.
Ezekiel 20:43, and ye shall lothe yourselves in your own sight for all your evils that ye have committed.
Ezekiel 36:31 Then shall ye remember your own evil ways, and your doings that were not good, and shall lothe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and for your abominations.
Ezekiel 16:45, Thou art thy mother's daughter, that lotheth her husband and her children.
Zechariah 11:8, Three shepherds also I cut off in one month; and my soul lothed them, and their soul also abhorred me.
On the other hand, the word “loathe” appears just one time in the Bible. “Loatheth” is used twice, and “loathsome” is used 4 times. Here are the verses where this word and its various forms appears:
Job 7:16 I loathe it; I would not live alway: let me alone; for my days are vanity.
Numbers 21:5, our soul loatheth this light bread.
Proverbs 27:7 The full soul loatheth an honeycomb; but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.
Numbers 11:20 But even a whole month, until it come out at your nostrils, and it be loathsome unto you.
Job 7:5 My flesh is clothed with worms and clods of dust; my skin is broken, and become loathsome.
Psalm 38:7 For my loins are filled with a loathsome disease.
Proverbs 13:5 A righteous man hateth lying: but a wicked man is loathsome, and cometh to shame.
After searching the Oxford English Dictionary, I could not find a significant difference between the meaning of these two words. “Lothe” or “loathe” means: “to have an intense aversion or dislike for; to be or become disgusted, to feel disgust”.
So what is the difference between “lothe” and “loathe”? Upon close examination the word “lothe” seems to always be used in connection with God or people performing the action of lothing other people.
The human connection with the word “lothe” is obvious to see. It’s always God or a person lothing others. At times the object of lothing might even be that same person looking in the mirror and lothing themself. So “lothe” is always used as a connection between God and people, or people and other people.
The word “loathe” however, is used differently. It seems to be used in any case that is not dealing with a person performing this action on another person. For example:
Job says in Job 7:16 I loathe it; I would not live alway: let me alone; for my days are vanity. He is speaking of his life. He “loathes” his life. That is not one person “lothing” another person. That is a person “loathing” his life.
In Numbers 21:5 the congregation of Israel said …. our soul loatheth this light bread. “Loatheth” is used in connection with food here – not between people.
How about Proverbs 27:7? The full soul loatheth an honeycomb; but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet. Again, food is the object of loathing – people are not.
Let’s look at Numbers 11:20. But even a whole month, until it come out at your nostrils, and it be loathsome unto you…. This is speaking about the quail that God would bring to the camp of the Israelites. So once more, food/quails is the object of the loathing - not people.
Job 7:5 My flesh is clothed with worms and clods of dust; my skin is broken, and become loathsome. In this account, Job is giving a description of his skin. It is loathsome. It is not lothsome.
Psalm 38:7 For my loins are filled with a loathsome disease: and there is no soundness in my flesh. The psalm writer is describing a disease in his loins as loathsome. The pattern we are seeing with the word “loathe” is that there is no human connection with it. People perform the action of “loathing” upon things, but they perform the action of “lothing” upon other people.
Let’s look at Proverbs 13:5. A righteous man hateth lying: but a wicked man is loathsome, and cometh to shame. This one stumped me momentarily – until I realized that no one is performing the action of loathing the wicked man, it is simply a description of him. He is loathsome.
Now, let us look at one last verse. This verse concerns the first word we looked at – “lothe” – which Biblically is always used in connection between people. Exodus 7:18 And the fish that is in the river shall die, and the river shall stink; and the Egyptians shall lothe to drink of the water of the river.
The use of the word “lothe” in this verse seemed out of place at first glance, considering what we know about the usage of this same word in other passages in Scripture. I must admit, I could not see a human connection here. If I had written this verse, I would have used the word “loathe”. Because it seems like the Egyptians are lothing the water, not other people! Oh no! Is this a mistake in the King James Bible?! Take a deep breath. If this Book is perfect (and it is), then there must be a reason “lothe” is used here instead of “loathe”.
At this point in my study, I called my good friend, Bro. Kevin Sheridan who is pastoring in Antlers, Oklahoma. After explaining everything to him, we were both asking ourselves “Where is the human connection here in Exodus 7:18?” Bro. Sheridan found the answer. Exodus 7 is written in the middle of the 10 plagues of Egypt. Let’s ask the question - What was the river in Egypt turned into during this particular plague? Blood. Tell me, what kind of blood do you think it was? Animal or human? Based on how the word “lothe” is used throughout scripture, we must conclude that it was human blood! There is the human element with this word “lothe” as it is used in this verse in Exodus 7:18! And remember – the life of the flesh is in the blood.
The blood in the Egyptian river could not be the blood of Jesus because the blood was being used as a plague or a curse. Jesus’ blood is certainly not cursed. Ironically enough, this would be the same river in which the Egyptians had forced the Hebrews to cast their baby boys!
Is it possible that the blood of that plague was the blood of those innocent babies that the Egyptians had shed, and now they are “lothing” it? Is it possible that God was now using this shed blood as a judgment upon them? (There is certainly a parallel with abortion here.) In conclusion, let us consider for a moment how this study began in the first place. It began because of a one-letter difference between two similar words. Pay attention to your Bible. The marvels of its perfection might be staring you right in the face.