Wednesday, March 20, 2013

You can read Hebrew Scriptures the way you want to read, a simple demo!

There is a lot of debate over the accuracy of one version of the Bible over the other. I am not a scholar, but I thought it ideal to publish a few of my observations on translating the Hebrew scriptures.

Warning: this material may be boring to anyone who is not interested in translation and grammar!

Disclaimer: Strong's numbers are used for reference, I do not endorse the definitions in Strong's lexicon. (Strong's is a weak lexicon). This blog has nothing to do with my theology, soteriology  or eschatology.

Remember: Hebrew is read right-to-left and the Hebrew text has no punctuation or space. Of the 22 Hebrew alphabets 5 are "end forms" of 5 "normal letters" to indicate the end of a word. A word can end in any of the rest of the 12 letters and there is no way to identify if it happens so.


The demo!


To demonstrate my point I use Zep 1:2, only the first 6 Hebrew letters from it:
(Figure #1)

There are at least 2 words involved in this the, because the letter ף (pe) is the end form of the letter פ (Pe). Whether there are 


Hebrew Interlinear Bibles read it as:
(Figure #2)
H622 is אסף, meaning: to gather. 

So, these 6 letters of Zep 1:2 can mean "gather, gather".

KJV reads the same text as:


(Figure #3)

KJV renders those 6 letters as: I will utterly consume H622, H5486 ...

H5486 is סוּף, meaning: consume or destroy. (ignore the middle letter for the moment because a verb may appear in various forms according to the tense and case of the usage).

There are no Hebrew words for utterly, surely, completely, definitely, etc. Associated verbs are repeated to show such expressions. ("You may eat, eat" means "you can surely eat" and "You will die, die" means "you will surely die ...)

The basic difference between the two words is the first letter (א Aleph).


Where does KJV get "I will"?


It can be proved with more than a thousand examples that when Aleph (א) is prefixed to a verb it means "I" or "me" is the subject of that verb. (Something that you will not find in Strong's).

A sentence needs to have a subject and obviously "I" (Jehovah) is the subject or doer of the act detailed in Zep 1:2 onward. (There is an exception to this rule: there need not be any subject for an imperative sentence or an exclamatory sentence).

Unfortunately, KJV picks up that subject from the second word, instead of the first one. (notice that I have underlined א in Figure #3)

So, according to KJV's reading of Zep 1:2, the 6 letters in question should mean: Gather, I will destroy...

If KJV were to obtain that "I" (א) from the first word, then the scripture should have meant: I destroy, gather ... which would not have made any sense at all.


How I read it:


If I were to read it as shown in Figure #2, it would be an imperative sentence: Gather! gather all from the land ... as though someone is being commanded to gather.

If I were to read it as an assertive sentence I would read those 6 letters as 4 words:



I would have rendered it as: I will destroy, I will destroy ... (Note that I separate "I" (א) as the subject of the sentence.  The words are repeated because there are no words for surly, certainly ... as I stated above).

The context of the verse is about the destruction that Jehovah had in mind and not about any sort of gathering. (Please read the whole chapter).