Words of the King James Bible: Ague

Contrary to what King James Onlyists claim, the King James Bible is not written in the “Universal Language.” It’s written in a 400 year old version of it, and languages change radically over a few centuries.

That being said, the King James Bible is a beautiful work of antiquity, and one of the most elegant translations we have today. It will at times contain difficult words, but these should be viewed as opportunities to expand your vocabulary. As I come across words that cause me some trouble, I’ll share them here for others.

Today’s word, “ague”.

“The Burning ‘Ague'”

Leviticus 26:16 King James Bible:
“I also will do this unto you; I will even appoint over you terror, consumption, and the burningĀ ague, that shall consume the eyes, and cause sorrow of heart: and ye shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it.”

When you come across words you don’t understand, at times the context will define them for you. Especially in places where parallelism is commonly used. But when this option isn’t present, consulting modern versions can help in your understanding:

Leviticus 26:16 New International Version:
“then I will do this to you: I will bring upon you sudden terror, wasting diseases and fever that will destroy your sight and drain away your life. You will plant seed in vain, because your enemies will eat it.”

Leviticus 26:16 New American Standard Bible:
“I, in turn, will do this to you: I will appoint over you a sudden terror, consumption and fever that will waste away the eyes and cause the soul to pine away; also, you will sow your seed uselessly, for your enemies will eat it up.”

Of course consulting a lexicon is always helpful too:

And for good measure, toss in a dictionary reference like Noah Webster’s 1828:

  1. The cold fit which precedes a fever, or a paroxysm of fever in intermittents. It is accompanied with shivering.
  2. Chilliness; a chill, or state of shaking with cold, though in health.
  3. It is used for a periodical fever, an intermittent, whether quotidian, tertian, or quartan. In this case, the word, which signifies the preceding cold fit, is used for the disease.

Now you know what “ague” means. The next time you’re reading through Leviticus, and you come across it, you’ll be prepared!