"...and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up." Matthew 4:16b KJV

Is this verse is talking about two separate but related things, or just one thing?

As an example...the place of death might cast a shadow of death. They are two separate and distinct things but related.


Yes, I believe the two words express different aspects of a condition.

Χοριον, chorion, is a field or parcel of ground, enclosed by fencing or perhaps just delineated by landmarks e.g. Consider the lilies of the field, Matthew 6:28, and χορα, chora, Strong 5561, is a larger area, maybe a country e.g. the country of the Gergesenes, Matthew 8:28, in which case it is enclosed by local or national borders.

It is a distinct area, one which most people would hardly ever depart from, particularly in olden times. This is where they lived, within these borders. It was their dwelling place, their habitat. They knew no other, except by word of mouth or written report.

And of the land of Zabulon and the land of Nephthalim, by way of the sea (of Galilee) beyond (at the extremity of - it is περαν, peran) Jordan : of this country, far in the north, bordering the outlying nations, 'Galilee of the gentiles' is it said :

the people who sat in darkness saw great light Matthew 4:16.

The light they see comes from Israel. It emanates forth with the ministry of Jesus of Nazareth, sent, at the first, to the Jews, but with the prophetic promises (abounding in the Hebrew scripture) of a gospel and a testament that will spread over the whole earth.

But what of the shadow, spoken of in verse 16 ? The shadow, also, came from Israel. For to Moses was the law given to express it, first to Israel, and - thereby - to all the sons of Adam.

The law is shadow. It is not light.

Σκια, skia, 'shadow', Strong 4639 occurs seven times in the Greek scripture, a significant number of perfection. Fowls lodge in shadow, Mark 4:32. Some sought just the shadow of Peter to fall on them, that they might be healed.

But of meat and drink, of holy days and new moons and sabbath days, Paul says that they are all just a shadow of things to come ; but the body of Christ, Colossians 2:17. The shadow is a portent only ; the substantial body of the things signified - is Christ himself.

For the law, says the writer to the Hebrews, having a shadow of good things to come, not the very image of those things, Hebrews 1:1, can never make the comers thereunto perfect.

The comers to the law (in Israel) never were made perfect, and what emanated from Israel in past time, was shadow. The shadow darkened the border of the gentiles and they, also, shared in that limited revelation, within their own borders.

But light came into the world. I am the Light, saith he, John 8:12. And to those who sat, waiting, unable to do a thing, dwelling under the shadow which, dimly, spoke of better things (and clearer revelation) to come, light sprang up as Jesus , v 17 'began to preach'.

Thank you for the question. It was edifying to consider it.

  • 1
    Thank you for your answer. Whilst reading I was reminded of the phrase 'Old Testament is Jesus Christ concealed, New Testament is Jesus Christ revealed'. – Michael Aug 14 '19 at 21:26
  • @Michael Apposite and succinct : thank you. – Nigel J Aug 19 '19 at 8:24

Matt 4:16 is a qote from Isa 9:2 where the sense is clearer:

… in the land of the shadow of death, …

No distinction is implied between the region and shadow of death. It is presumably on this basis that many versions, with one eye on the original Hebrew have rendered Matt 4:16 as:

… in the land of the shadow of death … (NIV)

The Pulpit commentary observes:

In the region and shadow of death. The region where death abides, and where it casts its thickest shade. The Hebrew is simply "in the land of the shadow of death" (בארצ צלמות, according to the traditional interpretation), which the present LXX. (Vatican) probably represents (ἐν χώρᾳ σκιᾷ θανάτου) , the ς of σκιᾶς having been misread before θ. But copyists, not understanding this, inserted καὶ between χώρᾳ and σκιᾷ (as in A), and this reading became popularly known, and was used by the evangelist. That the reading of A was derived from the evangelist is unlikely, for the reading σκιᾷ must, at all events, have been before his time.

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