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Humility (Heb: עָנָו; Gr. πραΰς) is that human quality wherein a person willingly submits to a higher power. Also translated meekness or gentleness, this quality is found in leaders who think of others first[1]. Those who live with this attitude will often be oppressed by earthly powers[2], but in answering instead to God, they will be vindicated[3]

Meaning and Usage[]

The Hebrew word עָנָו (`anav, also עָנָיו `anayv) literally means "depressed in mind or circumstances". Though outwardly this may be undesirable, to be poor and lowly engenders a sense of humility and meekness that requires submission to just laws. Apart from the Law of God, though, laws are often oppressive[4]. It seems appropriate, then that Moses, as the "law giver" was called the meekest man on earth[5]. Moses was only the spokesman.

The poetry of the Old Testament contrasted the cruelty of the rich with the special place the poor had to Yahweh[6]. Sometimes translated "poor", humility is sometimes paired with its synonyms[7]. Humbled by circumstances, the poor knew that they could depend on God[8]. Aware of their humanity, they humble are prepared to do divine things[9] and receive the LORD's blessings[10]. The prophets, in warning of the wrath to come, assured the victims of the nation's sins need only turn to God in humility to be saved[11].

In the New Testament, Jesus declared that He, like Moses, was a humble and poor man[12], but in his very first sermon in Nazareth, Jesus spoke the truth to his neighbors directly from Isaiah's Messianic prophecy: the gospel is for the humble in this world[13]. Matthew cites a Messianic prophecy when recording the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem[14].


  1. Num 12:3; Mat 11:29 (Link)
  2. Job 24:4 (Link)
  3. Ps 37:11 (Link)
  4. Isa 32:7; Amos 2:7 (Link)
  5. Num 12:3 (Link)
  6. Job 23:4; Ps 147:6; Prov 3:34 (Link)
  7. Job 24:4; Ps 9:18; Prov 16:19; Isa 11:4 (Link)
  8. Ps 9:12,18; 10:12,17 (Link)
  9. Ps 25:9 (Link)
  10. Ps 22:26; 37:11 (Link)
  11. Isa 61:1-2; Zeph 2:3 (Link)
  12. Mat 11:29 (Link)
  13. Isa 61:1; Luke 4:18 (Link)
  14. Matt 21:5; Zech 9:9 (Link)