Mar 16, 2011 David Lang

Use Commands to Narrow Your Search Results

Suppose you're looking for verses that talk about "mercy." Do a word search for "mercy" in many English Bibles and you'll find a great many references to the "mercy seat." How do you weed out all the occurrences of "mercy seat" so that you can just concentrate on the references to mercy by itself? You do it by using search commands.

Search commands let you group and exclude items from a search in a variety of ways, and you'll find them all conveniently listed in the Enter Command submenu of the Search menu.

One simple way to exclude "mercy seat" from your search for "mercy" would be mercy <NOT> mercy seat. This search finds any verse which contains the word "mercy" but which does not contain the phrase "mercy seat." However, this search might eliminate positive hits. For example, what if there were a verse which reads, "You will find mercy at the mercy seat"? Such a verse would be excluded because <NOT> mercy seat eliminates every verse which contains the phrase "mercy seat."

A better way to construct this search would be mercy <NOT> <FOLLOWED BY> <WITHIN 1 Words> seat. This search will find every occurrence of the word "mercy" except those which are immediately followed by "seat." So if there really were a verse which read "You will find mercy at the mercy seat," Accordance would highlight the first occurrence of "mercy" but not the second.

Now, it just so happens that in most English Bibles, both of these searches return the same number of results. That means that there are no verses which mention "mercy" together with the phrase "mercy seat." Still, I hope you can see the difference between these two searches and the level of precision which is possible by combining multiple search commands.

By the way, if you do these searches in the King James, you'll find that there is a difference which shows up. Can any of you tell me which verse is excluded by mercy <NOT> mercy seat but found by mercy <NOT> <FOLLOWED BY> <WITHIN 1 Words> seat? If you can, how did you find it? I'll show you an easy way to locate the difference in tomorrow's post.

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Archived Comments

Bob Kuo

March 16, 2011 12:37 PM

This is how I found the "missing" verse:

Tab one I opened up KJVS and entered:

mercy <NOT> mercy seat

In a second tab (KJVS 2) I searched for:

mercy <NOT> <FOLLOWED BY> <WITHIN 1 Words> seat

In a third tab (KJVS 3) I searched for:

[CONTENTS KJVS 2] <AND> <NOT> [CONTENTS KJVS] and found Exodus 37:9:

Ex. 37:9 And the cherubims spread out their wings on high, and covered with their wings over the mercy seat, with their faces one to another; even to the mercy seatward were the faces of the cherubims.

David Lang

March 16, 2011 12:52 PM

Well done, Bob! And here I thought that would be something of a challenge. Now I'm afraid tomorrow's blog post will be somewhat anticlimactic. ;-)