The word is not found in AV or RV, and even for the verb RV substitutes 'worship' in Bel 4; but both the idea and its expression in act are frequent.
Amongst the Hebrews the postures and gestures expressive of adoration underwent slight change in the course of time. Kissing the statue of a god (1Ki 19:18; Ho 13:2; cf. Job 31:27) was an early Arabic custom, and became a technical meaning of adoratio amongst the Romans; but in this usage the sense is identical with that of worship. Adoration proper was expressed by prostration to the ground, or even by lying prone with the face touching the ground (Ge 17:3; Jos 5:14; Job 1:20; Ps 95:6; 99:5; Da 3:5). As elsewhere, this posture was not at first confined to intercourse with God. As an act of special courtesy it was adopted towards kings (2Sa 14:4), towards strangers of mysterious quality (Ge 18:2), as an expression of close and respectful attachment (1Sa 20:41), or with the design to conciliate (Ge 33:3; 1Sa 25:23; Es 8:3; Mt 18:26), or to honour (2Ki 4:37). 'Sat before the Lord' (2Sa 7:18) may refer to a special and solemn mode of sitting, as in 1Ki 18:42; the Arabs are said to have sat during a part of their worship in such a way that the head could easily be bent forward and made to touch the ground.
Outside the Christian sphere, prostration continued in the East to be a mark of submission and homage, rendered to such men as were for any reason or even by convention invested in thought with Divine qualities or powers. The NT, by example and less frequently by precept, confines this fullest mode of worship to God, and protests against its use towards men. Jairus' act (Mr 5:22; Lu 8:41) was prompted by intense yearning, a father's self-abandonment in the sore sickness of his child, and must not be taken as implying a full recognition of Christ's Divinity. Like Mary's posture at Bethany (Joh 11:32), it was a preparation for the attitude of the disciples after their visit to the empty tomb (Mt 28:9). Whatever Cornelius intended (Ac 10:25 f.), Peter found an opportunity to lay down the rule that no man under any circumstances is an appropriate object of adoration; and John repeats that rule twice not far from the end of Scripture (Re 19:10; 22:8 f.). The attempt to alienate from God His peculiar honours is a work of Satan (Mt 4:9); and adoration naturally follows a conviction of the presence of God (1Co 14:25).
R. W. Moss.
This word does not occur in the Authorised Version, but there are several attitudes described that form part of the outward acts of adoration which may be well considered under this title, leaving inward adoration to the article on WORSHIP. The homage given may be to God, to the Lord Jesus, to an idol, or by one man to another.
2. Kneeling, bowing the knee. To God. Isa 45:23; Eph 3:14. To the Lord Jesus every knee shall bow, even those under the earth. Php 2:10: it was done in mockery, Mr 15:19; and in sincerity, Mt 17:14. To Joseph, Ge 41:43. 3.
3. Falling down before. Demanded by Nebuchadnezzar in honour of his image, Da 3:5; requested by Satan, at the temptation of our Lord, Mt 4:9; paid to the Lord when an infant by the wise men, and often in the Gospels, Mt 2:11; Mr 5:33; Lu 5:8; Joh 11:32; and in heaven by the elders to God and the Lord Jesus, Re 4:10; 5:8,14; 19:4.
4. Kissing. In idolatry, 1Ki 19:18; Ho 13:2. To the sun and moon by kissing the hand, Job 31:26-27. (Tacitus, Hist. iii. 24, says that in Syria they salute the rising sun; and that this was done by kissing the hand.) All the above actions are portrayed on ancient monuments. The word 'worship' in the Authorised Version of the N.T. often signifies 'homage,' such as one man gives to another in authority, or to one he wishes to honour, rather than 'worship' in the sense which that word now conveys.
The acts and postures by which the Hebrews expressed adoration bear a great similarity to those still in use among Oriental nations. To rise up and suddenly prostrate the body was the most simple method; but, generally speaking, the prostration was conducted in a more formal manner, the person falling upon the knee and then gradually inclining the body until the forehead touched the ground. Such prostration was usual in the worship of Jehovah,
it was the formal mode of receiving visitors,
of doing obeisance to one of superior station,
and of showing respect to equals.
It was accompanied by such acts as a kiss,
laying hold of the knees or feet of the person to whom the adoration was paid,
and kissing the ground on which he stood.
Similar adoration was paid to idols,
sometimes, however, the act consisted simply in kissing the hand to the object of reverence,
and in kissing the statue itself.
ADORATION, the act of rendering divine honours; or of addressing God or any other being as supposing it to be God. (See Worship.) The word is compounded of ad, "to," and os, "mouth;" and literally signifies to apply the hand to the mouth; manum ad os admovere, "to kiss the hand;" this being in eastern countries one of the great marks of respect and submission. To this mode of idolatrous worship Job refers, Job 31:26-27. See also 1Ki 19:18.
The Jewish manner of adoration was by prostration, bowing, and kneeling. The Christians adopted the Grecian, rather than the Roman, method, and always adored uncovered. The ordinary posture of the ancient Christians was kneeling; but on Sundays, standing.
ADORATION is also used for certain extraordinary acts of civil honour, which resemble those paid to the Deity, yet are given to men.
We read of adorations paid to kings, princes, emperors, popes, bishops, abbots, &c., by kneeling, falling prostrate, kissing the feet, hands, garments, &c.
The Persian manner of adoration, introduced by Cyrus, was by bending the knee, and falling on the face at the prince's feet, striking the earth with the forehead, and kissing the ground. This was an indispensable condition on the part of foreign ministers and ambassadors, as well as the king's own vassals, of being admitted to audience, and of obtaining any favour. This token of reverence was ordered to be paid to their favourites as well as to themselves, as we learn from the history of Haman and Mordecai, in the book of Esther; and even to their statues and images; for Philostratus informs us that, in the time of Apollonius, a golden statue of the king was exposed to all who entered Babylon, and none but those who adored it were admitted within the gates. The ceremony, which the Greeks called ??????????, Conon refused to perform to Artaxerxes, and Callisthenes to Alexander the Great, as reputing it impious and unlawful.
The adoration performed to the Roman and Grecian emperors consisted in bowing or kneeling at the prince's feet, laying hold of his purple robe, and then bringing the hand to the lips. Some attribute the origin of this practice to Constantius. They were only persons of rank or dignity that were entitled to the honour. Bare kneeling before the emperor to deliver a petition, was also called adoration.
It is particularly said of Dioclesian, that he had gems fastened to his shoes, that divine honours might be more willingly paid him, by kissing his feet. And this mode of adoration was continued till the last age of the Greek monarchy. When any one pays his respects to the king of Achen in Sumatra, he first takes off his shoes and stockings, and leaves them at the door.
The practice of adoration may be said to be still subsisting in England, in the custom of kissing the king's or queen's hand.
Adoration is also used in the court of Rome, in the ceremony of kissing the pope's feet. It is not certain at what period this practice was introduced into the church: but it was probably borrowed from the Byzantine court, and accompanied the temporal power. Dr. Maclaine, in the chronological table which he has subjoined to his translation of Mosheim's Ecclesiastical History, places its introduction in the eighth century, immediately after the grant of Pepin and Charlemagne. Baronius traces it to a much higher antiquity, and pretends that examples of this homage to the vicars of Christ occur so early as the year 204. These prelates finding a vehement disposition in the people to fall down before them, and kiss their feet, procured crucifixes to be fastened on their slippers; by which stratagem, the adoration intended for the pope's person is supposed to be transferred to Christ. Divers acts of this adoration we find offered even by princes to the pope; and Gregory XIII, claims this act of homage as a duty.
Adoration properly is paid only to the pope when placed on the altar, in which posture the cardinals, conclavists, alone are admitted to kiss his feet. The people are afterward admitted to do the like at St. Peter's church; the ceremony is described at large by Guicciardin.
Adoration is more particularly used for kissing one's hand in presence of another as a token of reverence. The Jews adored by kissing their hands, and bowing down their heads; whence in their language kissing is properly used for adoration. This illustrates a passage in Psalm it, "Kiss the Son lest he be angry;"