Accordance Blog
Oct 25, 2012 David Lang

Isolating Verses with the CONTENTS Command

In yesterday's post, I showed how I searched for the Hebrew word meaning "cast image" and then wanted to separate the verses referring to cast images of animals from the ones referring to cast images of deities. I did this by "marking" all the animal verses and then adding those marked verses to a Reference List. At that point, I just selected all the verses I had collected and used the Copy As Reference command to get a list of those verse references.

In this post, I want to show you an easy way to get a list of all the other verses—the ones I had not marked in my previous post.

At the end of my last post, I had two tabs open: a search tab with my Hebrew word search, and a reference list tab containing only those verses from the first tab which I had gone through and marked. To get a list of the other verses I had not marked, I really just need to remove all the marked verses from the Search tab. The easiest way to do this is using the CONTENTS command.

The CONTENTS command lets you use the list of verses from another tab as an argument in a search. Since all the verses I previously marked have been added to the Reference List tab, I can exclude the Contents of that Reference List from my original search to isolate all the other verses. I'll do this simply by adding the NOT command, followed by the Contents command, to my original search for the Hebrew word meaning "cast image."


Note how because the Reference List contains Ex. 32:4 and 32:8, those verses no longer appear in the Search tab. I've specified that those verses cannot appear in my search result because they are among the contents of the Reference List tab.

At this point, all I need to do to get my list of verses which refer to cast images of deities is to select all the verses in my Search tab and choose Reference from the Copy As submenu of the Edit window.


I can then paste that list of verses into my writing project, which lists the two different uses of this Hebrew word:

The Bible refers to cast images of deities (Ex 34:17; Lev 19:4; Num 33:52; Deut 27:15; Judg 17:3–4; 18:14, 17–18; 1 Kings 14:9; Is 30:1, 22; 42:17; Nah 1:14; Hab 2:18; 2 Chr 28:2; 34:3–4) and of animals (Ex 32:4, 8; Deut 9:12, 16; 2 Kings 17:16; Neh 9:18; Psa 106:19; Hos 13:2).

Using the CONTENTS command saved me from having to go through my search result a second time to mark the verses referring to cast images of deities. By excluding the verses in the Reference List tab, I narrowed my search result to all the verses I had not previously marked.


Mar 17, 2011 David Lang

Contents Command to Compare

In yesterday's post, I talked about how you can use search commands to narrow your search results and avoid superfluous hits. The example I used was a search for "mercy" that would exclude hits for "mercy seat," and I demonstrated two approaches: mercy <NOT> mercy seat and mercy <NOT> <FOLLOWED BY> <WITHIN 1 Words> seat. I explained that because the first search will eliminate any verse containing the phrase "mercy seat," it might eliminate valid hits, while the second search would find references to "mercy" even if it occurred in a verse which also contained the phrase "mercy seat."

Unfortunately, I couldn't demonstrate the difference between these two searches because every English Bible I tried returned the same number of hits with either search. That's because none of those Bibles actually contained a verse which included both the word "mercy" by itself and the phrase "mercy seat." The one exception I found was the King James, which returned 239 verses with mercy <NOT> mercy seat and 240 verses with mercy <NOT> <FOLLOWED BY> <WITHIN 1 Words> seat. That meant there is one verse that has both "mercy" and "mercy seat."

Now the question was how to find that one verse out of 240. I issued what I thought was a challenge to find that verse, and was promptly given the answer by a user who knows the power of the CONTENTS command.

What is the CONTENTS command? The CONTENTS command lets you use the list of verses from one tab as a search argument in another tab. Knowing how to use this command makes it easy to find where two similar searches return different results. In this case, you need to set up one tab (KJVS) with the search mercy <NOT> mercy seat and a second tab (KJVS 2) with the search mercy <NOT> <FOLLOWED BY> <WITHIN 1 Words> seat. The KJVS tab will then display 239 verses, while the KJVS 2 tab will display 240 verses. To find the verse which is in KJVS 2 but not in KJVS, you need a third tab with the search argument [CONTENTS KJVS2] <NOT> [CONTENTS KJVS]. This search then returns Exodus 37:9, which has both the phrase "mercy seat" and the word "mercy" not immediately followed by "seat." (It's actually followed by "seatward," so it's easy to see why modern translations don't show this difference.)

The CONTENTS command can be used not only to compare similar searches in the same Bible, it can also be used to compare the same search in two different Bibles. For example, the ESV uses the phrase "mercy seat" 28 times, while the HCSB only has it 27 times. The CONTENTS command could therefore be used to isolate [CONTENTS ESV] <NOT> [CONTENTS HCSB].

The CONTENTS command is a powerful command with numerous applications. Learn to use it, and you can easily compare the results of multiple searches.