This word has the meaning of paying no attention to; disregarding; being remiss in care for or treatment of (someone or something); failure to carry out or perform (orders, duties, and so forth). The word can carry the connotation of willfulness or deliberateness in such failure, or merely of oversight through indifference or carelessness.
One of several Hebrew terms having the meaning “neglect” is the verb pa·raʽʹ, which literally means “loosen.” (Nu 5:18) It has the sense “go ungroomed” with regard to physical appearance (Le 10:6), “go unrestrained” with regard to conduct (Ex 32:25), and “neglect” or “shun” discipline. (Pr 13:18; 15:32; compare Ex 5:4, where it is rendered “leave off.”) Another is the word ʽa·zavʹ, which literally means “abandon; leave.” (De 29:25; 1Ki 12:8) Thus, Nehemiah encouraged true worshipers not to “neglect” the house of the true God. (Ne 10:39; compare 13:11.) Another Hebrew term to designate neglect literally means “slackness,” like that of a loose bow.—Jer 48:10; compare Ps 78:57.
The Greek word a·me·leʹo (from a, “not,” and meʹlo, “care for”) contains more definitely the idea of unconcern, not caring, and not so much the thought of unintentional oversight or the overlooking of something. After describing the severe punishment for disobedience to the Mosaic Law, the apostle Paul says: “How shall we escape if we have neglected [Gr., a·me·leʹsan·tes, “having been unconcerned (of)”] a salvation of such greatness in that it began to be spoken through our Lord . . . while God joined in bearing witness?” Here he indicates that it is not the matter of an oversight, but the lack of concern, a ‘drifting away’ (vs 1), disobedience to the word of God spoken through his only-begotten Son.—Heb 2:1-4, Int.
Matthew used a form of this Greek word in relating Jesus’ illustration of the marriage feast. Those invited by the king to his son’s wedding feast did not come. Why? Not through oversight, but, “unconcerned they went off, one to his own field, another to his commercial business.” For this lack of concern they were counted unworthy.—Mt 22:5, 8.
The young man Timothy was given a heavy responsibility as an overseer in Ephesus. Paul admonished him: “Do not be neglecting [or, being careless of] the gift in you that was given you through a prediction and when the body of older men laid their hands upon you.” It took much energetic action on Timothy’s part to avoid being neglectful. He had to be absorbed in his reading, proper teaching, conduct, exhortation, and example, showing concern by constant, undeviating attention. Otherwise he could lose out by negligence, by lack of real concern for God’s favor bestowed upon him.—1Ti 4:11-16, Int.
Paul quotes Jehovah’s words concerning Israel wherein He spoke of the Law covenant, saying, “which covenant of mine they themselves broke, although I myself had husbandly ownership of them.” (Jer 31:32) In place of “although I myself had husbandly ownership of them,” the Septuagint reads: “and I stopped caring for them.” This doubtless explains why the quotation, at Hebrews 8:9, reads: “Because they did not continue in my covenant, so that I stopped caring [showed no concern] for them.” Jehovah was certainly not negligent in the sense of carelessness or oversight; rather, he showed great concern for his covenant people until they disregarded his word and rebelled against him. Only then and on that basis was it that he “stopped caring [Gr., e·meʹle·sa] for them.”