Thursday, December 29, 2011

"Yom" in Genesis Chapter 1

     Yom occurs  about  2302  times  in Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, the scholarly
critical text of the Hebrew scriptures. It is used 11 times by Moses in Genesis chapter 1
as he was guided to write under the influence of the Holy Spirit of God. (2 Pet. 1:20-21)

     Yom has a range of meaning in various contexts throughout the holy scriptures. It
can mean day or daylight (Gen. 8:22; Jer. 33:25); a day of twenty-four hours (Josh.
10:13; 1 Sam. 18:10); special days (Prov. 25:20; Ezek. 1:18); the day of Yahweh,
that is, a time of judgment (Isa. 2:12; Mal. 3:2); lifetime (Gen. 47:8; Job 38:12); a
period of time (Gen. 24:55; Judges. 19:2), etc.

     There  is  divergence  of   judgment   among   Hebrew   scholars,   exegetes,   and
commentators as to the meaning of yom in Genesis 1. Some scholars conclude that the
word indicates epochs, or long periods of time that includes millions or billions of years.
It is my studied conviction that yom means a day of 24 hours in Genesis 1. I  believe
the  contextual and lexical evidence decisively proves that Moses used the term to
indicate a day of 24 hours.

     The latter part of the Hebrew text of Genesis 1:5 reads, "wayahi ereb wayahi 
boker yom ehad." (and there was evening and there was morning day one.) The  
Septuaginta edited  by Alfred  Rahlfs  reads, "kai egeneto hespera kai egeneto proi 
hemera mia." (and  there  came  evening  and there came morning day one.) With the
exception of the numeral the phrase is repeated in verses 8, 13, 19, 23, and 31.  

     First, the phrase  "evening and morning"  not  only precedes the days of creation,
but  the expression  shows  that  in the mind of Moses parameters are set for the
days of the creation week. In  other  words,  the days were constituted  of  a
period  identified  as  "evening and morning." (...ereb...boker) Moses uses the same
order of terms elsewhere in the Pentateuch. In  Exodus 27:21  we  read,  "In  the  tent
of  meeting,  outside the veil  that  is  before the testimony, Aaron and his sons shall
tend it from  evening to morning before Yahweh. It shall be a statute forever
throughout your generations by the people of Israel." In Leviticus 24:3 Moses  wrote,
"Outside the veil of the testimony, in the tent of meeting, Aaron shall arrange it from
evening to morning before Yahweh regularly. It shall be a statute forever throughout
your generations." The phrase is used in the text to indicate the daily tasks of the
priests. In Numbers 9:21, "from evening until morning" refers to the time of Yahweh's
presence covering the tabernacle all night. The  phrase is not used merely  as  a  poetic
device  to  describe an indefinite period of time, but  it  is  descriptive  of a definite
period of time.

     Second, elsewhere in the Pentateuch Moses compares the days of the creation
week to the days of the Jewish work week. By doing so, he indicates  that  since
God ceased labor on the seventh day, the Israelites are to do the same. He says,
"Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six  days  you  shall  labor,  and  do
all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to Yahweh your God...For in six days
Yahweh made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the
seventh day. Therefore Yahweh blessed the Sabbath day  and   made   it  holy."
(Exodus 20:8-11)   The  same  information  is   repeated   in  Exodus 31:15-17.
Notice the points of comparison: Yahweh worked six days, the Israelites are to work
six days; Yahweh "rested" (ceased labor) on the seventh day, the people are to cease
labor on the seventh day. If  the   days   of   the creation week were aeons, periods
consisting of thousands, millions, or  billions  of  years,  it  would be a non sequitur
when compared to the days of the Israelite work week! None of the Israelites would
have lived through the first "day" of their work week! The  Israelites  days  of work
were the same as God's days of creation, otherwise the comparison that Moses made
would make no sense, and it would set the Israelites into a state of confusion.

     Third,  Moses  makes  a  clear  distinction  between  "days  and  years" (uleyomim 
weshonim)in Genesis 1:14. If, as some allege, the days in verses 5,8,13,19, 23, 31
and  2:1 are aeons consisting of billions of years, please tell us the length of the "years"
found within the same chapter! If the term "years" is to be understood in the literal
sense, why isn't the word "day" to be understood the same way?

     Fourth, the  scholarly  Hebrew  and  Aramaic lexicons that are sensitive to word
usage, acknowledge that yom is used in Genesis 1 to refer to a day of 24 hours. (Cf.
Lexicon In  Veteris  Testimenti  Libros,  A  Dictionary  of  The Hebrew Old 
Testament  in  English  and  German,  page  372;   A   Concise   Hebrew  and  
Aramaic  Lexicon  of  the  Old Testament, page 130;  Theological  Lexicon  of  
the  Old Testament, volume 2, page 528; The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of 
the Old Testament, The New Koehler-Baumgartner in English, Volume 2, page
399; The Dictionary of Classical Hebrew, volume 4, page 166. Brown-Driver-Briggs
Hebrew English Lexicon makes the following observation about yom, "day as defined
by evening and morning Gen. 1:5,8,13,19,23,31." Hebrew and English Lexicon of 
the Old Testament, page 398).

     It seems that some professors, preachers, and commentators are trying to adapt
the Bible's account of creation to pseudo-science  and  the  theories  of  theistic  and
atheistic evolution. We must remember that God is the author of all true science, and
all efforts to make God fit a human mold are futile!
                                                                                                                    R. Daly

Copyright 2011


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Not All Greek-English Lexicons Are Equal

     Greek lexicons are indispensable for New Testament research. Nevertheless the
student must use lexicons with the same discretion as he would use commentaries,
grammars and other uninspired resources. Some lexicons contain doctrinal and
technical errors. These errors are often due to sectarian prejudices and lack of
thoroughness in examining and reporting the facts contained in the source materials
that are cited. A person must be very cautious in citing definitions from a lexicon in
an effort to determine word meaning.

     Alexander Souter's Pocket Lexicon To The Greek New Testament was
published in 1916. It was republished by Hendrickson Publishers, and revised and
edited by Mark A. House in 2008, under the title Compact Greek-English Lexicon 
of The New Testament. It contains some inexcusable errors that affect the
interpretation of the New Testament. It remains a useful reference work if  it is used
in conjunction with more recent scholarly lexicons. Let us note a couple of fundamental
examples where the lexicon misses the mark.

     On page 46 of the original lexicon and page 37 of the revision, baptizo is defined
as, "lit. I dip, submerge, but specifically of ceremonial dipping (whether immersion
or affusion)..." The revision says parenthetically (whether immersion or pouring). First,
no original source material is cited that indicates baptizo is used of a ceremonial
dipping (whether by immersion or pouring). Second, no biblical text is cited that
illustrates such meaning. Third, his explanation of baptizo (whether immersion or
pouring) is self contradictory. Baptizo cannot be by immersion or pouring! As he
stated, the verb baptizo means "I dip, submerge." Actually, it is more than a mere
contradiction; he is wrong. (Romans 6:3-4; Colossians 2:12)

     On page 286 of his original lexicon and 189 of the revision, psallo is defined as,
"I play on the harp (or other stringed instrument). The problem is the same. No
original source material is cited to sustain the definition, and no biblical evidence is
cited that illustrates the alleged meaning. He is relying on the connotation of psallo
as it is sometimes used in the Septuagint. But, his work is titled A Pocket Lexicon 
To The New Testament. Therefore, he should have given evidence from the literature
contemporary with the New Testament. He failed to do this and renders his lexicon
unsatisfactory at this place.

     Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek lexicons are are not inerrant. Their authors and
compilers are not guided by the Holy Spirit, therefore they must be used with caution.
The student of the sacred scriptures should always use more than one lexicon, and
he should be as familiar as possible with original sources. Most of all he should be
intimately familiar with the word of God! Study God's word lexically and contextually.

                                                                                                                      R. Daly

Copyright 2011


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

"Into The Name"

     The phrase "into the name" (eis to onoma) occurs several times in the
New Testament. It occurs at least four times in connection with immersion.
Jesus told his apostles to immerse believers "into the name of the Father
and   of   the    Son    and    of    the    Holy    Spirit." (Matthew 28:19)
Luke tells us the people of Samaria "had been immersed into the name of
the Lord Jesus." (Acts 8:16) The same writer says about twelve men in
Ephesus "were immersed into the name of the Lord Jesus." (Acts 19:5)
A variation is found in 1 Cor. 1:15. Paul asked the Corinthians if they had
been immersed into his name? (eis to emon onoma). The American Standard
Version-1901 consistently translates the phrase as "into the name" in all of its
occurrences in 1 Corinthians and the book of Acts. Other English versions
translate the phrase literally sometimes, and at other times they translate it with
the words "in the name." In the texts where they do not translate it literally, they
generally place the literal rendering in the margin or the footnotes. (RSV; NASB;

     What does it mean to be immersed "into the name" of someone? Adolf
Deissmann, in his book Bible Studies, in which he notes the contributions of
the papyri and inscriptions to the study of the New Testament, says, "Just as,
in the Inscription, to buy into the name of God means to buy so that the
article bought belongs to God, so also the idea underlying, e.g., the
expressions to baptise into the name of the Lord, or to believe into the
name of the Son of God, is that baptism or faith constitutes the belonging
to God or to the Son of God ." (page 146)

     J.H. Moulton and George Milligan state in their Vocabulary of the Greek 
Testament, page 451, that "The phrase eis to onoma tinos is frequent in the
papyri with reference to payments made "to the account of any one...The usage
is of interest in connexion with Mt. 28:19, where the meaning would seem to
be "baptized into the possession of the Father, etc." Bauer-Danker-Arndt-
Gingrich's Greek-English Lexicon Of The New Testament and Other
Early Christian Literature concurs. The lexicon says on page 713, "Through
baptism eis to onoma tinos those who are baptized become the possession
of and come under the dedicated protection of the one whose name they bear."

     This is certainly true when we consider Paul's use of a similar phrase in the
Corinthian letter. The Corinthians were claiming to be "of Paul; of Apollos;
of Cephas; and of Christ." Paul asks them, "Is Christ divided? Was Paul
crucified for you? Or were you immersed into the name of Paul? I thank God
that I immersed none of you, except Crispus and Gaius; lest any one should
say that you were immersed into my name." (1 Cor. 1:13-14)  Paul's point
is this: you cannot rightly claim to be "of" Paul because you were not immersed
"into" my name. And since you were not immersed "into" my name, you do
not owe your allegiance to me, for I do not possess you. You do not belong
to me, you belong to Christ! Therefore, to be immersed "into the name of
the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" is to become their "property,"
having entered into relationship with them. Christians belong to the Father,
Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Copyright 2011

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Did Yahweh Remove Their Chariot Wheels?

     The story of the children of Israel going into the midst of the Red Sea is one
of the great narratives in the Old Testament. It demonstrates God's love for and
protection of his people. It also demonstrates God's utter hatred of sin and the
destruction that awaits those who oppose God.

     There is a key difference among English versions within the context of
Exodus chapter 14. We learn that the Egyptians pursued the Israelites and
went in after them into the midst of the sea. "And in the morning watch Yahweh
in the pillar of cloud looked down on the Egyptian forces and threw them into
confusion." (Ex. 14:24)

     In verse 25, some translations say Yahweh "jammed the wheels of their
chariots. " (NET; TNIV; NIV-2011) Others read similarly by saying he
"clogged their chariot wheels." (RSV; ESV) The TANAKH (Jewish Publication's
Society's translation, 1985) says Yahweh "locked the wheels of their chariots."
Those translations follow the reading of the Septuagint, Samaritan Pentateuch,
and the Syriac instead of the Hebrew text. The translators believe the Hebrew
root is 'asar, meaning to bind, and could contextually carry the connotative
meaning, "to clog," perhaps by sinking into the wet sand of the Red Sea.

     The ASV reads, "And he took off their chariot wheels," followed by the
NIV which says, "He made the wheels of their chariots come off." The KJV
like the ASV says "And took off their chariot wheels." The KJV, ASV, and
NIV translate the Hebrew text as it stands. The Hebrew word in the traditional
text is wayyasar, meaning "to turn aside," (The NASB-71 and NASB-95
say "He caused their chariot wheels to swerve.") Wayyasar is likely used in
the sense of removing the wheels. The question is, which rendering is to be
preferred---'asar, jammed in the sense of clogging or locking their chariot
wheels, or wayyasar, removed their chariot wheels?

     Many of the translators and commentators who work with this portion of the
Hebrew text reason, "Would a wheelless chariot drive 'with heaviness,' or would
it just grind to a halt?' " (Exodus 1-18, page 500, W.H.C. Propp, Anchor Bible 
Commentary) Others see the phrase "removed their chariot wheels" as an
"interpretive translation of the Hebrew." (Exodus, page 343, Douglas K. Stuart,
The New American  Commentary)

     In response to the first statement, "Would a wheelless chariot drive 'with
heaviness?', the answer is a definite yes. A horse can  pull  a "wheelless" chariot
just as surely as he can pull a sled, wagon, and cart without wheels. And they
are driven with "heaviness." As to whether translating wayyasar as "removed"
or "took off" is an interpretive translation of the Hebrew. The Hebrew word
has a range of meanings, one of which is "to remove." (The Hebrew and
Aramaic Lexicon of the old Testament, volume 2, page 748)

     Translators need compelling reasons before they depart from the traditional
Hebrew text of the Old Testament. Amending the Hebrew text may be necessary
when there are legitimate grounds to do so, but in my judgment, such is not
necessary in Ex. 14:25. No insurmountable difficulties arise when wayyasar
remains in the text and is translated as "removed" or "took off."

Copyright 2011

Thursday, July 7, 2011


     One of the key texts in which the Greek verb orthotomeo appears is
2 Tim. 2:15. The KJV translates orthotomeo with the phrase "rightly dividing."
The ASV says "handling aright." The RSV says "rightly handling."

     Many expositors of the scriptures have assumed that Paul is informing
Timothy to make a proper division of the Old and New Testaments. We can be
certain that such is not what the apostle is telling Timothy to do in this text.

     In ancient Greek orthotomeo literally meant to "cut a path in a straight
direction, or to cut a road across country in a straight direction." (BDAG, p.722)
Paul is using  orthotomeo figuratively. This figurative use means, to guide along a
straight path, that is, do not deviate to the left or right by quarreling about words;
it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. The context of 2 Tim. 2, especially
verses 14 and 16, seems to lead to this conclusion. Many of the modern translations
make this clear. The NRSV says, "rightly explaining." The NIV 2011 says, "correctly
handles." The HCSB says, "correctly teaching." Each of the aforementioned
translations recognize the figurative use Paul is making of the Greek verb.

     Timothy, the "man of God" (1 Tim. 6:11; 2 Tim. 3:17) has the responsibility to
be certain that he deals honestly with the sacred writings. (2 Cor. 2:17; 4:2) He
must be careful not to believe, teach, or practice anything that is not in harmony
with God's will. He must boldly and unashamedly present God's message, handling
it accurately and explaining it correctly.

     We live at a time, as was true in Timothy's day, when many spurious doctrines
and practices abound among the Lord's people and in the religious world at large.
The issues should be addressed, but we must be careful not to be led into a
discussion of foolish and insignificant matters. We should also avoid endless
controversies that are not substantive in nature.

     We must do as Paul instructed Timothy, orthotomounta ton logon tes aletheias;
hold a straight course (as you correctly explain) the word of truth, and do not be
detoured by unfounded opinions that result from godless chatter.

Copyright 2011

Friday, June 3, 2011


     The adjective monogenes is used in the Septuagint (Judges 11:34; Psa. 21:21;
24:16; 34:17), and in the Greek N.T. (Lk. 7:12; 8:42; 9:38; Jno. 1:14, 18; 3:16,
18; Heb. 11:17; 1 Jno. 4:9)

     The older English versions of the N.T. translate monogenes with the phrase
"only begotten," though that is not what the word means. Monogenes means
that which is the only one of its kind within a specific relationship, one and only,
only, unique; single of its kind. The comprehensive Greek lexicons and word
books of N.T. Greek indicate that such is the case. (cf. BDAG, p. 658; Thayer,
pages 417-418; Moulton-Milligan, pages 416-417, etc.)

     In Lk. 7:12 monogenes is used of "an only son of his mother." In Lk. 8:42 it
is used of  Jairus' "only daughter." In Lk. 9:38 it is used of a man's "only child."
There is a sense of strong personal attachment in each of these passages. The
"only son," "only daughter," and "only child" were obviously beloved, or dearly

     In Jno. 1:14 monogenes is used to describe Jesus as "the only  Son from
the Father." (ESV) The NIV 2011 uses the phrase "one and only Son" in order
to convey both the Son's uniqueness and the Father's personal attachment to
him. In Jno. 1:18 monogenes conveys the Son's uniqueness in that he is in
closest relationship with the Father and he makes the Father known in a way
that no one else does. In Jno. 3:16 monogenes  implies that the Son is unique
and precious to the Father, and as a demonstration of his love for humanity,
God gave him to be sacrificed for the whole sinful world. The distinctiveness
and uniqueness of God's Son are also seen in Jno. 3:18, for it is through him
and in his name that salvation is granted.

     In Heb. 11:17 Isaac is called the monogenes son of Abraham. He was
Abraham's unique son in that he was the one through whom Yahweh promised
descendants too numerous to count. "It is through Isaac that descendants shall
be named for you." (Heb. 11:18; NRSV)

     In 1 Jno. 4:9 monogenes is used of Jesus as the unique Son of God who
was sent into the world, "so that we might live through him." (ESV) God sent
his beloved, one of a kind Son to be the means through which those who believe
in and obey him might have life!

     Monogenes is used in the N.T. to convey the idea of uniqueness, one and
only, the only one of its kind, and by extension it includes a strong personal
attachment to that which is "one and only."
                                                                                                     Ron Daly

Copyright 2011


Tuesday, April 12, 2011


     The  noun  Adelphos  in  its  various forms occurs approximately 343
times in the Greek N.T. It is sometimes used in its literal sense to mean a
"brother;" one from the same womb. (John 1:41) It can also mean "one who
shares   a  common  ethnic  heritage.  (Acts 22:13).  It  sometimes   means
"neighbor." (Mat. 7:3-5) It can also refer to "one who shares the same faith
in Christ; a fellow-believer." (Col. 4:7)

      Adelphoi, the  plural  form of  adelphos  is  used  frequently  in the
Greek N.T. of spiritual siblings in the family of God. Males and females
who have believed, repented, confessed, and were immersed into Christ
(Gal. 3:26-29) They were "born again," (Jno. 3:3-5; Tit. 3:5-7), and are
therefore adopted into the family of God. (Eph. 1:5; 1 Tim. 3:15) Adelphoi 
identifies those who are in this spiritual relationship as "brothers and sisters."

     The older English versions (KJV, RV, ASV) and some relatively recent
versions (NASB, RSV, NKJV) translate adelphoi with the word "brethren."
This word is generally used only in religious circles. Other versions such as
the original NIV, ESV, and HCSB use the word  "brothers." One of the
problems with using "brethren" is the fact that it is a somewhat archaic
word. Many times "brothers" is too  gender specific. The  modern reader
may be misled into thinking only males are being addressed in certain
contexts, when in reality they are not. So, modern English versions, in an
effort to be accurate, especially when a congregation is addressed translate 
adelphoi with the phrase "brothers and sisters." (cf. New Living Translation;
New Revised Standard  Version; NET;  Today's  New  International
Version; and the NIV 2011)

     Some people object to translating adelphoi with the phrase "brothers
and sisters," because in their view it is an effort to be "gender inclusive,"
and to give women equal roles and authority with men in religion. This is
an unfair judgment. The N.T. itself teaches that God does not give a woman
the right to "have authority over the man." (1 Cor. 14:34-35;1 Tim. 2:11-15)
The  phrase "brothers and sisters" (adelphoi) is not designed to blur the
distinctive  roles that God has assigned to men and women, but it seeks to
accurately  convey  the  meaning  of  adelphoi  by  indicating the familial
relationship shared by those of the same faith.

     It has long been proven by Greek lexicons that adelphos/adelphoi are
used in this manner in secular Greek literature and in the N.T. (Thayer's 
Greek-English Lexicon, pages 10-11; Alexander Souter's Pocket 
Lexicon, p. 6; A Greek-English Lexicon Of The New Testament And 
Other Early Christian Literature, Introduction, p. 24 and pages 15-16
of the lexicon,1952 edition.)

     It is accurate to translate adelphoi with the phrase "brothers and sisters"
when  a  congregation  is  addressed, when  the  universal  group of Jesus'
followers is under discussion, and when it can be shown from the context
that  a  religious  group  consisting  of  both  males  and  females  is  under
consideration. Translators have not accurately translated God's word, until
they   have  selected    the   word  or   phrase  in    the   target   language,
that means the same as the word or phrase in the source language. They
must also convey the meaning in an understandable manner. "Brothers and
sisters"  for   adelphoi   in   English   translations   is   both  accurate  and
understandable. A gentleman who objected to the rendering "brothers and
sisters"  was  asked  which  translation  of adelphoi  he believed to be the
correct one, and he responded, "Brethren." He was then asked "What does
'brethren' mean, and he replied, "Brothers and sisters."

                                                                                                 R. Daly

Copyright 2011


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Do Not Rebuke an Elder

     The American Standard Version translates the first part of
1 Timothy 5:1 in this way, "Rebuke not an elder." This reflects
the policy of the ASV translators to be as literal as possible, and
to use one English word for one Hebrew word in the O.T., and
one English word for one Greek word in the N.T. when possible.
This policy has inherent problems of its own, though one scholar
wrote the following about the ASV, "So far as English versions
are concerned, the reader who wants an accurate word for word
translation has in the Revised Version or American Standard
Version the best of its kind that is ever likely to be provided."
(Bruce, F.F.,  The Books and the Parchments, page 235) I
wholeheartedly concur with Bruce's assessment of the ASV. The
ASV has no equal as  far as the modified  literal  approach  to
translation is concerned.

     What does the word "elder" mean in 1 Tim. 5:1? It translates
the Greek presbutero, dative masculine singular of presbuteros.
Presbuteros is used in a number of ways in the New Testament.
It  may  refer  to  members of  the Sanhedrin (presbuterous ton 
Ioudaion, elders of the Jews) Luke 7:3; the 24 members of the
heavenly court (hoi eikosi tessares presbuteroi) Revelation 5:8;
men  who were appointed  to  preside over and   shepherd  local
assemblies  of  Christians  (tous presbuterous tes ekklesias, the
elders  of  the congregation) Acts 20:17 ;1 Timothy 5:17-19; and
those  who  are   advanced  in  life  (hoi  presbuteroi, old  men)
Acts 2:17.

     The meaning of "elder" in verse 1 is "old man." We can be
certain that this is correct because of the "contextual indicators."
There is an antithesis which exists between "an elder" who is to be
exhorted "as a father," and "younger men" who are to be exhorted
"as brothers" (neoteras hos adelphous). So, "elder" (presbuteros)
is used in contrast to "younger" (neos). Whatever "elder" means,
"younger" is the opposite, and whatever "younger" means, "elder"
is the opposite. Furthermore, Paul continues by contrasting "elder
women as mothers" (presbuteras hos meteras), and exhorting
"younger women as sisters" (neoteras hos adelphas). The "elder"
of verse 1 denotes the same thing as "elder women" of verse 2,
except for the distinction in gender. "Younger men" likewise
denotes the same thing as "younger women" excepting the gender
distinction. Also, there is a parallelism which exists between "elder"
of 1 Timothy 5:1, and the language of the same apostle elsewhere.
In Titus 2:2, Paul exhorts Titus that he, in speaking sound teaching,
inform "aged men" (presbutas) of their duties, and "aged women"
(presbutidas) of their duty to teach the "young women"
(tas neas, vv. 3,4).

     We find the same use of "elder" by the apostle Peter. "Likewise,
you who are younger (neoteroi), be subject to older ones
(presbuterois)" (1 Pet. 5:5). Note again the antithesis between
"younger" and "elder."

     What is the significance of the injunction "do not rebuke an
elder" expressed by the negative imperative (me epiplexes)?
May we not "rebuke" all who are in error, and who persist in sin
or rebellion against God, whether young or old? According to
other texts we may (Matt. 18:15-18; Lk. 17:3-4; 1 Tim. 5:20;
2 Tim. 4:2). So, why does the Holy Spirit through Paul, so
emphatically  say  to  Timothy  "do not  to  rebuke  an  elder"?
The key is in the word "rebuke." It is not the same word used in
2 Timothy 4:2.

     The word used in 2 Timothy is epitimao. Contextually, epitimao 
means "to censure  and  render a sharp rebuke" by the teaching of
the word. "Rebuke" in 1 Timothy 5 is from the Greek epiplesso
which means to reprimand, to strike (verbally), to assault with
abusive speech, to chastise with words, to reproach or denounce.
In the context, Paul informed Timothy about proper conduct
among believers, which he as an evangelist must practice. One
of the orders given to Timothy was, "Don't let anyone look down
on you because you are young..." (1 Tim. 4:12; NIV2011). This
entailed  treating  old men and old women with respect. An Old
Testament text contains the concept, "You shall stand up in the
presence of  the  elderly, and  show  respect for the elderly and
revere your God; I  am  Yahweh." (Lev. 19:32) Timothy was to
show respect for  the elderly, and not lash out with harsh words,
but have a tongue tempered by love and gentleness.

     Instead of the phrase "Rebuke not an elder," as in the ASV,
the recent versions say, "Don't criticize an older man" (Simple
English Bible), "Never be harsh with an elder" (New English Bible),
"Never censure an older man harshly" (James Moffatt Translation),
"Do not sharply rebuke an older man" (NASV), "Do not speak
harshly to an older man" (NRSV), "Do not reprimand an older
man" (McCord's New Testament Translation), "Do not rebuke
an older man harshly" NIV. This shows why it is important to
study from more than one translation. Comparative translation
study opens up vast opportunities for spiritual growth!

     The expression "Do not rebuke an elder" does not restrict or
forbid the younger from correcting the older brothers in the Lord
who err, but it does teach that there is a proper way to do it. And,
the way  is  not  by  ridicule and  harshness,  but  "as fathers and
mothers," that is, with genuine concern and kindness, attempting to
win them by snatching them out of the devil's grasp!

Copyright 2011                                   

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Son of Man

     The phrase "son of man" (ben adam) is an idiom. It is used approximately
107 times in the Hebrew Bible. It is found 93 times in Ezekiel 2:1-47:6. In
each instance ben adam is literally translated in the Septuagint with the Greek
phrase huios anthropou.

     Yahweh called the prophet Ezekiel "son of man" in order to focus on the
prophet's humanity. It is equivalent to saying "O man," or "mortal" (NRSV)
Ezekiel is a human being in contrast to the Sovereign, eternal God, the creator
of all. Yahweh is not "a son of man" (ben adam) that he should change his
mind." (Num. 23:19) God is not a mortal or a human being. Yahweh spoke to
the nation of Israel, the people of God,  through Ezekiel, a human being, a man
of the same class as those to whom he prophesied.

     In one of the Aramaic portions of the Old Testament, the prophet Daniel
spoke of one like "a son of man" (kebar enas) who came "with the clouds
of the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him
was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and
languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which
shall  not  pass  away, and  his  kingdom one that  shall not be destroyed."
(Dan. 7:13-14; ESV) Bar enas emphasizes the humanity of the person
described  by  Daniel. He  is  like a "son of man", that is, a member of the
genus human being.

     The idiom  "Son of Man" (huios anthropou) occurs more than 80 times
in the Greek N.T. It  is found 14 times in Mark, 30 in Matthew, 25 in Luke,
12 in John, 1 in Acts, and  it  is used  with homois in Rev. 1:13 and 14:14.
Jesus is the "Son of Man" in that he was "made like his brothers in every
respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the
service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people." (Heb. 2:17;
ESV) But, there is more.

     As the "Son of Man" the Father has given him authority to execute judgment.
(Jno. 5:27) The Son of Man is identified with Yahweh. He is the "I Am." (Jno.
8:58; Ex. 3:14; Isa. 43:25) The Son of Man came down from heaven to be the
atoning sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. (Jno. 3:13; 6:62) He is "the Lamb
of God;" the perfect sacrifice for the sins of humanity. (Jno. 1:29) The suffering
of the Son of Man is connected with the figure of the righteous servant of Yahweh
in Isa. 52:13-53:12. "He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth."
(1 Pet. 2:22) He was conceived in and born of a virgin (Mat. 1:23; Lk. 1:27,34)
Acknowledging the Son of Man will lead to being acknowledged in the presence
of the Father. (Mat. 10:32) "The Son of Man came to seek and save the lost."
(Lk. 19:10) The angel reminded the disciples at the empty tomb, "that the Son of
Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and rise on
the third day." (Lk. 24:7) He who was the Word in eternity "became flesh" and
died for the sins of the human race. (Jno. 1:14) He has received his kingdom,
glory, and honor, and he sits at the right hand of God. (Dan. 7:13-14; Heb. 1:3;
1 Pet. 3:22)

     Jesus is the "Son of Man" in that he was the perfect human being, truly human,
the ideal human being, the par excellent  human  being;  a  descendant  of  David
according to the flesh. (Mat. 22:42; Rom. 1:3) The "Son of Man" is the Messiah!

Copyright 2011

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


     The word baptisma is a noun and it occurs 19 times in the Greek N.T.
The English translations represent it as "baptism" in the various passages
where it is found. The word "baptism" is actually a gloss, that is, a misleading
interpretation and not a true translation of baptisma. The translators drop
the "alpha" from the end of the word and bring it over as "baptism." The
problem is, baptisma does not mean "baptism." That is like saying, "theos"
means "theos" or "ekklesia" means "ekklesia."

     Baptisma means "immersion, submersion, plunging, or dipping." Most of
the older and modern Greek lexicons define it as such and most of them cite
evidence from the ancient Greek writings as proof. We will examine a notable
exception at the end of this study.

     Among the older lexicons are A Greek and English Lexicon Of The 
New Testament by Edward Robinson, 1879 edition, page 119; A Greek-
English Lexicon Of The New Testament (Clavis Novi Testamenti
Philologica of C.G. Wilke/C.L. Grimm), translated, revised, and enlarged by
Joseph Henry Thayer, 1889 edition, page 94; Greek-English Lexicon To 
The New Testament, a new edition with additions and alterations, revised by
Thomas Sheldon Green, page 29. 

     The more recent lexicons are Greek-English Lexicon With a Revised
Supplement, compiled by Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott, revised
and augmented by Henry Stuart Jones, Roderick McKenzie and many scholars,
1996 edition, pages 305-306; Theological Dictionary Of The New 
Testament, volume 1, page 945; A Patristic Greek Lexicon, edited by
G.W.H. Lampe, page 284; and A Greek-English Lexicon Of The New 
Testament And Other Early Christian Literature, Walter Bauer-Frederick
Danker-W.F. Arndt-F.W. Gingrich, third edition (2000), page 165.

     Baptisma is used literally in the N.T. regarding salvation in Christ when
water is the element. (1 Peter 3:20-21; cf. Acts 10:47 where the verb form  
baptizo is used.) It is also used figuratively in the N.T. Jesus speaks of being
"immersed with the immersion with which I am immersed." (Mark 10:38) This
refers to Jesus' sufferings and death. Jesus says, "I have an immersion to be
immersed with..." (Luke 12:50) The meaning is to be inundated, overwhelmed,
or immersed in suffering or persecution.

     The lexicons are correct in their definitions of baptisma. This is clear from
the complimentary metaphors that Paul uses in his letter to the Romans. He
speaks of  being "buried with him through immersion." (sunetaphemen oun 
auto dia tou baptismatos). There is no burial signified by sprinkling and pouring.
A burial is pictured in immersion. As Christ was raised from the dead through the
glory of the Father, so we rise from the act of immersion in water to walk in
newness of life. Paul says the same thing to the brothers and sisters in Colossae.
(Col. 2:12)

     The N.T. also records complimentary literal phrases that prove the action
is immersion. Acts 8:38-39 Luke says, "And they both went down into the 
water (kai katebesan amphoteroi eis to hudor), Philip and the eunuch, and
he immersed him. And when they came up out of the water (hote de anebesan 
ek tou hudatos), the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away..." Notice that the text
says they "went down into the water and came up out of the water. Neither
sprinkling nor pouring necessitates these actions; immersion does.

     It is interesting to note that the Greek-English Lexicon Of The New 
Testament Based On Semantic Domains, by Johannes P. Louw and Eugene
A. Nida, volume 1, page 537, defines baptizo, baptisma, and baptismos as "to
employ water in a religious ceremony designed to symbolize purification and
initiation on the basis of repentance..." It is not without theological prejudice that
they use the generic phrase "to employ water in a religious ceremony." This allows
a broad range of interpretation that includes sprinkling, pouring, and/or immersion.
The N.T. use of baptizo, baptisma, or baptismos does not allow such a broad
range of interpretation. Their definition of those words is incorrect. Other lexical
evidence and more importantly N.T. contextual evidence shows the wisdom
of "not risking the family farm" on the testimony of prejudicial sources. Lexicons
are important tools for studying the original languages of sacred scripture, but
they must be used with discretion.

Copyright 2011

Thursday, February 10, 2011


     Doulos is found in several documents of Greek antiquity. It appears
in  Herodotus  (5th century B.C.),  the inscriptions,  the  papyri, Philo,
Josephus, etc.

     Doulos occurs more than 300 times in the Septuagint. It occurs
124 times in the Greek New Testament.  Doulos is a theologically
significant word. The Hebrew word 'ebed is a close correspondent to
doulos'Ebed carries a range of meaning such as servant, official,
slave. The Greek doulos literally means slave, one who is "owned
property totally and unquestionably at the behest of the   owner." 
(Concise Greek-English   Lexicon   of   the   New Testament,
F. W. Danker, page 101) 

     In  ancient  society  slaves  were  sometimes  captives  of  war.
(Deut. 20:10-18); sometimes foreigners who were bought and sold.
(Lev. 25:44-46); others  were  sold  into  slavery  because  they
defaulted   on   debts   they   owed.  (Ex. 21:2-4;  Deut. 15:12;
1 Sam. 22:3);  others  were  acquired  as  a  gift.  (Gen. 29:24).
Non-Hebrew slaves could be passed on from one generation to
the next. (Lev. 25:44-46). Others could become slaves by birth.
(Ex. 21:4; Lev. 25:54)

    In the N.T. doulos is sometimes used literally. (Eph. 6:5; Col. 4:1;
Philemon 16) The term is also used metaphorically to describe a
person who is under total obligation to surrender his will to the Lord
Christ. The person becomes the property of the deity. He has been
"immersed into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the
Holy Spirit." (Mat. 28:19)

     On  this  basis,  "Paul  is  a  slave  of  Jesus  Christ."  (Rom. 1:1)
Believers generally are slaves "of obedience that leads to righteousness."
(Rom. 6:16) The apostles were slaves of Christians for the sake of
Jesus. (2 Cor. 4:5) Paul's helpers were slaves of Christ Jesus. (Phil. 1:1)
James identifies himself as "a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ."
(Jas. 1:1) Peter was "a slave and apostle of Jesus Christ." (2 Pet. 1:1)
Jude was "a slave of Jesus Christ." (Jude 1). John the apostle was the
Lord's slave. (Rev. 1:1) The apostles and all believers in the apostolic
age were not averse to being known as slaves. They  considered servility
to be a privilege!

     Most English translations of the scriptures have been reluctant to use
the word slave in such contexts. They have opted for the more palatable
word "servant."  The Holman Christian Standard Bible has broken
away from tradition in this regard. It correctly interprets doulos to mean

Copyright 2011

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


     2 Peter 2:4 in Greek says, "ei gar ho theos aggelon hamartesanton 
ouk epheisato alla seirais zophou tartarosas paredoken eis krisin
teroumenous." The translation is, "For if God did not spare angels when
they sinned, but cast them into Tartarus, and committed them to chains of
deepest darkness to be kept for judgment." What is "Tartarus?"

     Historically, in the ancient Greek writings, Tartarus is found in Acusilaus
Historicus in the 5th century B.C. ; Lydus, Joannes Laurentius Historicus
Mensibus 4.158 in the 6th century A.D. and other sources. (cf. Greek-
English Lexicon, 9th Edition, page 1759, H.G. Liddell, R. Scott, Henry
Jones, and Roderick McKenzie)  According to them it means to cast into
Tartarus or hell.

     Tartarus is also used in the patristic writings and covers a wide range
of meanings such as Hades, the nether world, , hell; as a place of torment
and abode of the Devil; metaphorically of this world, opposite heaven;
synonymously with the Devil. (cf. A Patristic Greek Lexicon, pages
1375, 1376, G. W. H. Lampe, editor)

     E. A. Sophocles informs us in his Greek-English Lexicon of the
Roman and Byzantine Periods, volume 2, page 1070, that tartaros
was one of the compartments of hell and that the verb tartaroo means
to cast into Tartarus.

     In Greek mythology Tartarus is the place of the Titans and of
disobedient gods and is conceived as a gloomy place deep under the
earth. Hesiod Theogonia 720ff ; Homer Illiad 14.279f.

     In the N.T. the word occurs only once and is used in the participle
form in 2 Pet. 2:4. It means to "hold captive in Tartarus ." (A Greek-
English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian
Literature, Walter Bauer and Frederick William Danker, page 991)

     It is sometimes stated that, according to the N.T. Tartarus is the place
where the incorrigibly wicked go between death and the resurrection.
That is not quite right and the reason is, the N.T. says Tartarus is the
place where God cast the angels who sinned. It is not viewed as the
place where all the wicked dead go.

     There is no doubt that the wicked are in a place of punishment
between death and the resurrection. Luke 16:23 teaches they are in
Hades, where they are being tormented in a flame. (Also see 2 Peter 2:9)
But, the only time that Tartarus is mentioned in scripture, it is said to
be the place where God cast the angels who sinned. Therefore, we may
conclude by saying, in the N.T. Tartarus is the place of punishment
where angels who sinned are being held till the day of judgment.

Copyright 2011

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Deuteronomy 24:1 "Erwat Dabar"

     Moses wrote, "If a man marries a woman who becomes displeasing to him
because he finds something indecent about her, and he writes her a certificate
of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house, and if after she leaves
his house she becomes the wife of another man, and her second husband dislikes
her and writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from  his
house, or if he dies, then her first husband , who divorced her, is not allowed to
marry her again after she has been defiled. That would be detestable in the eyes
of Yahweh. Do not bring this sin upon the land Yahweh your God is giving you
as an inheritance." (Deut. 24:1-4; TNIV)

     What is the meaning of the phrase "something indecent" (erwat dabar) in
verse1? This has been a point of discussion for many centuries, and we have no
reason to believe it will cease any time soon. Even in the days of Jesus' earthly
service there were at least two dominant rabbinic schools of thought; the Hillelites
and the Shammaites. The school of Hillel allowed divorce for virtually any reason
whatever, and the school of Shammai interpreted Deut. 24 more narrowly, only
on the grounds of sexual immorality, that is, as unchastity on the part of the woman
within marriage. (Cf. m. Git. 9:10; b. Git. 90a; Josephus, Ant. 4.8.23 ...244-59,  
Vit. 76; Philo, Spec. Leg. 5)

     A sampling of English translations of the Hebrew text interpret erwat dabar
in the following manner: "some indecency" (RSV, ESV); "something indecent"
(NIV); "something objectionable" (NRSV); "something improper" (HCSB);
"some uncleanness" (KJV); "some unseemly thing" (ASV); "something obnoxious"
(TANAKH).  This gives us quite a range of interpretations. The Septuagint (LXX)
reads "aschemon pragma,"  literally  "nakedness  of  a  thing"  i.e., a matter of
uncleanness. The Latin Vulgate reads, "aliquam foeditatem" i.e., any filth.

     Hebrew lexicons show a wide range of definitions for erwah. Hebrew and 
Aramaic Dictionary of the Old Testament, George Fohrer, page 213, "indecency."
Student's Hebrew and Chaldee Dictionary, Alexander Harkavy, page 547, "any
filthy thing." Student's Hebrew Lexicon, Benjamin Davies-Edward C. Mitchell,
page 491, " a blemish." Hebrew-English Lexicon To The Old Testament, William
Gesenius, page 653, "shame, filthiness...any defect found in a woman." A Concise 
Hebrew And Aramaic Lexicon Of The Old Testament, page 283, "something
indecent." The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, Koehler-
Baumgartner, volume 2, page 883, "bareness, nakedness." The Brown-Driver-
Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon, page 789, "nakedness of a thing, i.e. probably
indecency, improper behavior." 

     The lexicographical data makes clear that erwah is something indecent, filthy or
shameful or possibly some sort of defect. The question is, what was the "indecency?"
One thing is certain, it was not adultery. Adultery was punishable by execution!
(Deut. 22:22; If adultery were meant by erwah rather than being allowed to
leave and become the wife of another man, the offending woman would have been
put to death.

     Erwat dabar refers to something the husband found offensive or distasteful in
his wife other than adultery. The phrase is found in the context of purity ordinances
and in this text must refer to something repulsive. It seems to refer to sexually
indecent behavior. It could have been that she was caught with her genitals exposed.
Erwah was commonly used with the meaning "nakedness or genitals" particularly
of a woman. (Cf. Lam. 1:8 where Jerusalem is personified as a lewd woman) One
thing is for certain, it refers to some unspecified form of unacceptable behavior.
The exact details of  what the indecent thing was are yet elusive.

Copyright 2011


Saturday, January 15, 2011

Who Were The Nephilim?

     Genesis 6:4 says, "The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also
afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they
gave birth to children by them. These were heroes of old, the men of renown."

     Nephilim is the "translation" or rather transliteration (bringing over the letters
of one language to another ; in this instance from Hebrew in to English) that we
find in the ASV, RSV, NIV, TANAKH, NRSV, NET, ESV, and TNIV. The
reason they transliterate is, there is some uncertainty as to the meaning of the
Hebrew word. Efforts to interpret the Hebrew word Ne'pilim go back at least
as far as the Septuagint (LXX). The LXX translator(s) uses the Greek words 
hoi gigantes twice in the text. According to the Greek-English Lexicon Of 
The Septuagint, Revised Edition, complied by J. Lust, E. Eynikel, and K.
Hauspie, page 120, gigantes means "giant, mighty one."

     The likely reason that both the LXX and the KJV translate Ne' pelim as
"giants" is the fact that Num. 13:33 indicates the Ne'pelim , associated with
the sons of Anak were men of imposing stature. The context makes that clear.
The spies said, "...all the people that we saw in it are men of great stature. And
there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of  Anak, who come from the Nephilim),
and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them."
There is no certainty that the description of the Ne'pilim in Num. 13:33 applies
to Gen. 6:4.

     Actually, there is a growing scholarly consensus that Ne'pelim means "fallen
ones."  The Dictionary Of Classical Hebrew, edited by David J.A. Clines,
published by Sheffield Academic Press, volume 5, page 723, "giant" is given as
a meaning,  but he adds, "perhaps fallen ones, i.e. dead." Some have assumed
they were fallen angels who cohabited with women and produced sort of a
superhuman race. The evidence for this view is as strong as the evidence that
there are snowflakes on the sun. First, the expression "sons of God" probably
refers to the righteous people who "walked with God" (Gen. 4:26; 5:22,24; 6:9)
The "daughters of men" seem to have been worldly, ungodly women driven by
materialism, lust, and greed. (Isa. 3:16-4:1) Based on the context, since Gen. 6:1-4
immediately follows the genealogical lists  of  Cain  and  Seth,  it  is  most  likely
that  "the  sons  of  God"  are  the  righteous descendants of Seth (Gen. 4:25-5:32),
and "the daughters of men" are the descendants of Cain. (Gen. 4:17-24) Second,
we can be sure that Gen. 6 is not describing sexual relations between fallen angels
and humans because Jesus taught that angels have no such inclination or capability.
(Matt. 22:30) Furthermore, the descendants of the union of the "sons of God" and
"the daughters of men" are called "men of renown" ('anse hassem). They were
human beings, mortals, not part angel and part human. They were mere men. 

     It seems therefore, that the Nephilim were men who had fallen into moral
corruption. They were notorious for their wickedness. They were oppressors and
as the result of their incorrigibly wicked state, Yahweh would bring catastrophic
global destruction upon the human race, except for righteous Noah and his family.


Copyright 2011

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Elohim: Why "God" And Not "Gods"?

     Several years ago I heard a preacher say, "The word translated God in Gen. 1:1
is the Hebrew word elohim. It is grammatically plural and it could accurately be
translated 'gods' in this passage because it contains the concept of the trinity or a
plurality of  persons in the Godhead."  According to the author of an article titled
"How To Know If A Translation Is Faithful," not only could elohim be translated
"gods" in Gen. 1:1, but it must be so translated if one believes in the verbal
inspiration of the scriptures. He writes, "You must also believe every word of God
must be accurately translated as to its meaning, part of speech (noun, verb, pronoun,
etc.), and all of its grammatical information (masculine or feminine gender; first,
second or third person; verbal tense; etc.)." He went on to say in his article, "...every
word of the original Hebrew or Greek must be translated  and accurately as to its
meaning, part of speech, and all of its grammatical information, before any 
resulting translation (in whole or in part) can be considered faithful."
(all emphasis mine RD)

     Elohim occurs about 2570 times in the Hebrew text. It is a masculine plural
noun and is the general Hebrew word for deity. In Genesis 1:1 Moses wrote,
"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." (Bereshith bara elohim
eth hashamayim we'eth ha'arets) Though elohim is plural in form, it is singular in
meaning. It is unlikely that a plurality of persons in the Godhead is Moses' focal
point by the use of elohim, (though a plurality of persons in the Godhead is taught
in many other texts throughout God's word), and it is certain that the word is not
to be translated or represented by the word "Gods" in the English text of Gen. 1:1.

     Elohim describes God as the sovereign creator of the universe. Everything is
subject to Elohim. Moses' use of Elohim is designed to denote the majesty of
the deity. Hebrew grammarians identify this use of Elohim as the honorific or
majestic plural. It is an intensive plural used in an honorific sense. It indicates God's
perfect, unlimited, and matchless qualities. Elohim is God of God's and beside
him there is no other! "For thus says Yahweh, who created the heavens (he is God!),
who formed the earth and made it (he established it; he did not create it empty, he
formed it to be inhabited!): I am Yahweh, and there is no other." (Isaiah 45:18)

     In the opening verse of the Hebrew Bible, Moses introduces God (elohim) to
mankind as the incomparable, majestic, and supreme creator who made everything
with his powerful word. (cf. Psa. 33:6,9; Heb. 11:3)

     Elohim is translated "God" instead of "Gods" in Gen. 1:1 because it is singular
in meaning. There was only one God for all faithful Israelites and there remains
only one God for spiritual Israel today. Belief in monotheism was the guiding
idealogy of God's covenant people, and no loyal Hebrew would contemplate a
polytheistic concept such as believing that elohim implied many "gods" created
the heavens and the earth.

     The following sources may be consulted for more technical study on the use
of  elohim as an honorific or majestic plural (pluralis majestatis) in Hebrew
literature. An Introduction To Biblical Hebrew Syntax, Bruce K. Waltke and
M. O'Connor, pages 122-124; Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar, E. Kautzsch and
A. E. Cowley, page 463; Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, R. Laird
Harris, Gleason L. Archer, Jr., Bruce K. Waltke, page 44; Theological Dictionary 
Of The Old Testament, G. Johannes Botterweck, Helmer Ringgren, and translated
by John T. Willis, volume 1, page 267-284; New International Dictionary of Old
Testament Theology and Exegesis, Willem A. VanGemeren, General Editor,
volume 1, page 405; A Bilingual Dictionary of the Hebrew and Aramaic Old
Testament, Ludwig Koehler and Walter Baumgartner, pages 50-52; A Biblical
Hebrew Reference Grammar, Christo H.J. van der Merwe, Jackie A. Naude and
Jan H. Kroeze, page 185. 

Copyright 2011


Saturday, January 1, 2011


     The sacred scriptures affirm that Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God was
conceived in and born of a virgin, i.e. a woman who had not been sexually
intimate with a man. Matthew affirms Mary's virginity. (Matthew 1:23-25) The
beloved physician Luke affirms that she was a virgin. (Luke 1:27) Mary affirms
her own virginity. (Luke 1:34) There is no way that a person can believe the
testimony of the scriptures and deny the fact that Mary was a virgin when Jesus
was conceived, and when he was born.

     A theological firestorm erupted in the 1950's when the Revised Standard
Version of the scriptures debuted. Previous English versions such as the KJV and
the ASV had generally used the word "virgin"  to translate 'almah in Isaiah 7:14.
The RSV used the phrase "young woman" instead of virgin. The translators were
charged with denying the virgin birth of Jesus, and their translation was maligned
as being the product of communists. Copies of the RSV were burned, and the
translation was banished from many pulpits. It appears that much of the emotionalism
of that period of time has given way to reason on most fronts.

     Hebrew has many words that identify a woman in various ways. Female
(neqebah; Gen. 1:27), daughter (bat; Gen. 34:1), sister ('achot; Gen. 34:13),
woman (ishshah; Gen. 34:4); wife (ishshah; Gen. 34:4);  maiden (yaldah;
Gen. 34:4), harlot (zonah; Gen. 34:31) concubine (pelegesh; Judg. 19:1,24,25),
and widow ('almanah; Gen. 38:11)

     'Almah is a feminine noun and is used seven times in the Hebrew text.
Gen. 24:43; Ex. 2:8; Psa. 68:25; Prov. 30:19; Song of Solomon 1:3; 6:8 and
Isa. 7:14) It is the feminine counterpart of the masculine form 'elem. 'Elem occurs
twice in the Old Testament (1 Sam. 17:56; 20:22) In both instances it is used to
describe David. 'Elem means young man, lad, boy. Since it is the counterpart to  
'almah, then 'almah means a young woman, a maiden, a damsel. 'Almah is not the
technical word for virgin. Bethula is the word that is used many times in the Hebrew
text for "virgin." Therefore, it appears that 'almah represents a young woman or
maiden, one of whose characteristics is virginity.

     Many of the Semitic languages have equivalents of  the Hebrew feminine
noun 'almah and its masculine equivalent 'elem. In Ugaritic the masculine noun  
glm occurs many times and the feminine glmt occasionally. Other equivalents are
found in various Aramaic dialects; Imperial Aramaic, Nabatean, Palmyrene,
Punic, Syriac, and Palestinian Aramaic. Equivalents of the noun are found in North
Arabic and Old South Arabic. In Akkadian we find a metaphorical use of slm that
coincides to some extent with the usage of the Ugaritic nouns glm and glmt. The
Septuagint is inconsistent in translating 'almah. It uses parthenos twice
(Genesis 24:43; Isa 7:14), elsewhere it uses neanis. In most other places the
Septuagint used parthenos  to translate bethulah, and neanis to represent  
na'ara, na'ar. Jerome's Latin Vulgate uses virgo in Isaiah 7:14 and Genesis 24:43.
Puella or adolescentula is used elsewhere. Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion
all use neanis in Isaiah 7:14.

     Someone may ask, "If 'almah means 'young woman,' since Matthew used
the word parthenos which means 'virgin,' isn't he misapplying the text?" No,
because 'almah does not exclude virginity. Its main focus is on youthfulness instead
of virginity.The word 'almah that God through the Holy Spirit, chose for Isaiah to
use is the ideal term. It allows "the house of David" (Isa. 7:13) in the prophet's day
to see God's deliverance from "Rezin the king of Syria and Pekah  the son of
Remaliah the king of Israel." (verses 1-10) God promised them, "For before the
child knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land before whose
two kings  you are in dread will be deserted." (v. 16) It also allows Matthew
to show how it is ultimately fulfilled in the birth of Jesus Christ. Matthew's quote
in 1:23 is from the Septuagint which uses the word parthenos, and it means virgin.
Inasmuch as 'almah does not exclude virginity, the prophecy works both in Isaiah's
day and for the birth of our Lord from the womb of a young woman who had not
been sexually intimate with a man.

Copyright 2011