A quality with different meaning in Jewish and Greek contexts. In the Hebrew tradition, “the meek” are virtually synonymous with “the oppressed”; the term is descriptive of a social condition (lack of power) rather than a virtue. In Greco-Roman literature, however, “meekness” is comparable to humility and is often listed as a virtue of slaves and others who do not try to rise above their station. Most OT references to “the meek” should be understood in the former sense (Ps 37:11
; cf. Zeph 3:12
), where the NRSV translates the term “humble” even though the people so described are paired with the “lowly”). In the NT, (1Pet 3:4
) uses the word in the Greco-Roman sense, but the intended meaning in other passages (Matt 5:5
; Matt 11:29
; Matt 21:5
) is disputable.
11But the meek shall inherit the land,
and delight themselves in abundant prosperity.
12For I will leave in the midst of you
a people humble and lowly.
They shall seek refuge in the name of the Lord—
4rather, let your adornment be the inner self with the lasting beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in God's sight.
5“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
29Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
5“Tell the daughter of Zion,
Look, your king is coming to you,
humble, and mounted on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”