The King James Bible has three words … “upper”, “lower” and “nether” with the last two being taken as meaning the same.

The word “nether” is always explained away as an archaic word that simply means “lower” as in the following verses

1.   The lower wheel of a grinding millstone

“His heart is as firm as a stone; yea, as hard as a piece of the nether millstone.” (Job 41:24)

Deuteronomy 24:6 No man shall take the nether or the upper millstone to pledge: for he taketh a man's life to pledge.

2.  The lower of two springs

 “Who answered, Give me a blessing; for thou hast given me a south land; give me also springs of water. And he gave her the upper springs, and the nether springs.” (Joshua 15:19)

 “And she said unto him, Give me a blessing: for thou hast given me a south land; give me also springs of water. And Caleb gave her the upper springs and the nether springs. (Judges 1:15)

3.   Somewhere below the earth as opposed to above the ground

 “… for they are all delivered unto death, to the nether parts of the earth, in the midst of the children of men, with them that go down to the pit.” (Ezekiel 31:14)

 However if that is the case, why would God use the word “nether” instead of the plain old word of “lower”?

“Is there more to the meaning of the word “nether” than just “lower”?

Of course the Bible uses the word “lower” to mean simply a position as follows: 

UPPER – simply a position

Exodus 12:7 And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it.  

LOWER – simply a position

Genesis 6:16 A window shalt thou make to the ark, and in a cubit shalt thou finish it above; and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof; with lower, second, and third stories shalt thou make it.  

Why not just ‘upper’ and ‘lower’ springs; or ‘upper’ and ‘lower’ millstones?

The explanation is as follows:
The word “nether” = position PLUS to be cast down as evidenced by these scriptures:

Ezekiel 31:18 To whom art thou thus like in glory and in greatness among the trees of Eden? yet shalt thou be BROUGHT DOWN with the trees of Eden unto the nether parts of the earth: thou shalt lie in the midst of the uncircumcised with them that be slain by the sword. This is Pharaoh and all his multitude, saith the Lord GOD.

Ezekiel 32:18 Son of man, wail for the multitude of Egypt, and CAST THEM DOWN, even her, and the daughters of the famous nations, unto the nether parts of the earth, with them that go down into the pit.

Ezekiel 32:24 There is Elam and all her multitude round about her grave, all of them slain, fallen by the sword, which are gone down uncircumcised into the nether parts of the earth, which caused their terror in the land of the living; yet have they borne their shame with them that go down to the pit.

In fact, the word “nether” has the following connotations and meanings as well:

NETHER is to cast down; a withering or stunting influence; to bring or thrust down; to bring or make low or lower; abase; humble; to depreciate; disparage; be of less value; undervalue; vex; opposition; harass; straiten; confine; stress; keep under; oppress; check in growth; to tremble; to shrink or huddle

The King James Bible in-built dictionary gives the context and the meaning for a so-called “difficult” word … of which there are none.

Mathematically speaking, the word “nether” is a subset of “lower”.

Everything “nether” is “lower” but not everything “lower is “nether”!

It’s called the richer and richest nuggets of the English over and above what the Greek can supply.

The English gives you the reasons, motivations and delicate nuances that the Greek can never give.

Dear Reader, please examine the following words in the light of the above:

Why “besom” and not “broom”?
Why “haling” and not “hauling”?

Dear Reader, please write in if you have different opinion. At ABM we are always willing to learn.

Harley Hitchcock


Australian Bible Ministries, PO Box 5058 Mt. Gravatt East 4122 Qld, Australia