(1) frequently used in its proper sense, for fastening a tent (Ex 35:18; 39:40), yoking animals to a cart (Isa 5:18), binding prisoners (Jg 15:13; Ps 2:3; 129:4), and measuring ground (2Sa 8:2; Ps 78:55). Figuratively, death is spoken of as the giving way of the tent-cord (Job 4:21. "Is not their tent-cord plucked up?" R.V.). To gird one's self with a cord was a token of sorrow and humiliation. To stretch a line over a city meant to level it with the ground (La 2:8). The "cords of sin" are the consequences or fruits of sin (Pr 5:22). A "threefold cord" is a symbol of union (Ec 4:12). The "cords of a man" (Ho 11:4) means that men employ, in inducing each other, methods such as are suitable to men, and not "cords" such as oxen are led by. Isaiah (Isa 5:18) says, "Woe unto them that draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as it were with a cart rope." This verse is thus given in the Chaldee paraphrase: "Woe to those who begin to sin by little and little, drawing sin by cords of vanity: these sins grow and increase till they are strong and are like a cart rope." This may be the true meaning. The wicked at first draw sin with a slender cord; but by-and-by their sins increase, and they are drawn after them by a cart rope. Henderson in his commentary says: "The meaning is that the persons described were not satisfied with ordinary modes of provoking the Deity, and the consequent ordinary approach of his vengeance, but, as it were, yoked themselves in the harness of iniquity, and, putting forth all their strength, drew down upon themselves, with accelerated speed, the load of punishment which their sins deserved."
Lengthen thy cords, strengthen thy stakes (Isa 54:2); an image from a tent (appropriate, as the Israelite church was symbolized by the tabernacle); it, when enlarged, needs at once longer cords and stronger stakes. The church must not merely seek new converts, but strengthen in faith existing members. So in Job 4:21, "is not their cord in them unstrung?" or "snapped," so that their earthly tabernacle comes down (2Co 5:1). In Ec 12:6, "or ever the silver cord be loosed or the golden bowl be broken," the meaning is, before life's gilded lamp suspended from on high by the cord of intertwined silk and silver, be broken by the snapping of the cord.
The golden bowl may hint at the skull; "the silver cord," the spinal marrow attached to the brain, white and precious as silver. "He hath loosed my cord" (Job 30:11) is animate from a bow unstrung (contrast Job 29:20). In Ho 11:4, "I drew them with cords of a man," i.e., with human methods, as a father would draw his child by leading strings. In Mic 2:5, "cast a cord by lot" i.e. have any measured out possession, cords being used for measurement (Jos 13:6; Ps 16:6).
The materials of which cord was made varied according to the strength required; the strongest rope was probably made of strips of camel hide, as still used by the Bedouins. The finer sorts were made of flax,
and probably of reeds and rushes. In the New Testament the term is applied to the whip which our Saviour made,
and to the ropes of a ship.