Why is it important to understand the Hebrew?
Are you interested in what God's word truly says and teaches?
If you are (and you should be!) then it's vital as a child of God to understand the most ancient, most accurate message available.
If you had a choice, would you rather read God's word directly from His lips, or hear it through a third party once it is filtered by someone else's beliefs and agendas? Remember we are advised to "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling"!
Let me show you what I mean...
Lost in Translation…
Here are 5 verses that contain the word “heart” in the English translation:
Gen. 6:5 "And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually."
Exod. 23:9 "Also thou shalt not oppress a stranger: for ye know the heart of a stranger, seeing ye were strangers in the land of Egypt."
Job 38:36 "Who hath put wisdom in the inward parts? or who hath given understanding to the heart?"
Psa. 40:8 "I delight to do thy will, O my God; Yea, thy law is within my heart.”
Jeremiah 9:8 "Their tongue is as an arrow shot out; it speaketh deceit: one speaketh peaceably to his neighbour with his mouth, but in the heart he layeth his wait.”
… Now let's take just this word within each of these verses and take a look at them in the Hebrew:
The English takes each of these 5 Hebrew words which contain different meanings and translates everyone of them as if they all mean "heart" in the English. This is a common practice among the translations as they do not consistently translate the Hebrew words, instead they interpret them for us the reader.
The translators choose different words for instance that more closely fit our modern perspective or grammatical styling, (the way we would say things) while they try and do their best to at the same time maintain the original intent of the message.
For example notice here: In Gen. 6:5 "And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” In Biblical times it was believed that our emotions came from our stomach and bowels (me-ah) and our intellect came from our heart (lev). Today in expressing this same kind of idea we connect our head or brain to our intellect and thinking…and we more closely connect our heart with where our emotion comes form.
Okay…now let’s look at 6 verses in the English where the Hebrew word “lev” (meaning heart) was originally used...
Here are 6 Verses that contain the Hebrew word “lev” meaning “heart”. (The English word translated from "lev" is shown in red.)
Deut. 4:11 "And ye came near and stood under the mountain; and the mountain burned with fire unto the midst of heaven, with darkness, clouds, and thick darkness."
Gen. 31:20 "And Jacob stole away unawares to Laban the Syrian, in that he told him not that he fled."
Exod. 9:21 "And he that regarded not the word of the Lord left his servants and cattle in the field."
Numbers 16:28 "And Moses said, Hereby ye shall know that the Lord hath sent me to do all these works; for I have not done them of mine own mind."
Psa. 83:5 "For they have consulted together with one consent: they are confederate against thee:"
Proverbs 19:8 "He that getteth wisdom loveth his soul: he that keepeth understanding shall find good."
Gen. 31:20 here the word “heart” doesn’t seem to make sense… this is because a lot of other aspects of this verse were also altered when this verse was translated into the English. Trust me it makes complete sense when you read this verse in the original Hebrew. Simply stated, in the Hebrew Jacob stole the things of Laban's heart.
Numbers 16:28, Proverbs 19:8 are another two examples of what I just showed you; that we today see intellect as coming from our mind, but the Ancient Hebrew people say this aspect of our character as coming from our heart. Here the translator takes this into account.
Let's just consider Genesis 1 for example...
So what do each of these Hebrew words truly mean?
This is covered in detail under the Biblical applications section of this website.
For now I just want you to realize the liberty that is taken by the translators in creating our English translations of God’s original word.
Here are some other examples in Genesis 1 for your consideration...
In Gen. 1:2 we find the Hebrew word ruach רוח —it is translated throughout the KJV as: air, anger, blast, breath, cool, courage, mind, quarters, side, spirit, spiritual, tempest, vain, wind.
In Gen. 1:14 we find the Hebrew word mo'ed מועד —and it gets translated as: appointed, assembly, congregation, feast, season, set, solemn, solemnity, synagogue, time.
In Gen. 1:20 we have the Hebrew word nephesh נפש —it gets translated as: appetite, beast, body, breath, creature, dead, desire, ghost, heart, life, lust, man, mind, person, pleasure, self, soul, thing, will.
And for a final example in Gen. 1:17 we find the Hebrew word natan נתן —which gets translated elsewhere in the KJV as: add, aloud, apply, appoint, ascribe, assign, avenge, bestow, bring, cast, cause, charge, come, commit, consider, count, cry, deliver, direct, distribute, do, fasten, forth, frame, get, give, grant, hang, have, heal, heed, lay, leave, left, lend, let, lift, make, occupy, offer, ordain, over, oversight, pay, perform, place, plant, pour, present, print, pull, put, recompense, requite, restore, send, set, shoot, show, sing, sit, slander, strike, submit, suffer, take, thrust, tie, trade, turn, utter, ween, willingly, withdrew, would, yell, yield.
These examples are just the variations used within the KJV, if we consider other versions of our English Bible translations, you’ll find even more variations!
All this to explain how translation/interpretation has a huge influence on our understanding of God’s word. And to try and show you how important it is to understand the original Hebrew in order to work out your own salvation and interpretation of God’s word.
The English translators try and pave the road for us so that we don’t have to think or navigate what may appear as bumps or pot holes in the Hebrew. As a result we can easily end up approaching God’s word from the wrong perspective and misunderstand its intent!
When thinking about the various translations and the translators approach think about this...
This is what happens a lot with translation. Most of the real meaning gets lost or the focus of the translation misses the true intent of the original expression. Translation of the original Biblical Hebrew is difficult because there are so many things that need to be taken into consideration.
Some things to consider are:
• Source, Perspective, culture.
• Different Aspects or Characteristics of the letters and words.
• Understanding Entire Picture/Meaning. Symbol, Gematria, Root words…etc...etc.
As an example in the historical time period of Gladiator battles: Thumbs up originally meant ”slit his throat”, thumb down meant lay your sword down and let him live. The meaning of thumbs up has completely flipped today to mean something positive.
(If we apply today’s perspective and context to things of the past we are at risk of being completely wrong in our understanding)
And much of our English translations of God’s word has been influenced by the time period and culture that was present at the time of it’s translation.
In the English there are only 2 aspects to consider when looking at each letter in the alphabet, in contrast in the Hebrew there are 5 aspects to each letter in it’s alphabet. So any translation from Hebrew to English loses at least 3/5 of it’s meaning! More on this in a minute...
Bible versions are big business...
Selling Bibles is big business and I want you to consider how this effects the translation of God's original word:
Historically, the purpose of a translation was to bring the Bible to those who did not read the original language. Over the centuries there has been a shift in purpose.
Consumerism in the Bible Business:
In December of 2006 "The New Yorker" published the article "The Good Book Business" which stated; "The familiar observation that the Bible is the best-selling book of all time obscures a more startling fact: the Bible is the best-selling book of the year, every year… This is an intensely competitive business… Every year, Nelson Bible executives analyze their product line for shortcomings, scrutinize the competition's offerings, and talk with consumers, retailers, and pastors about their needs." In short, the translating and printing of Bibles is "Big Business." In the world of consumerism, it is the producer's primary objective to offer a product that appeal to the consumer. For this reason a translation is required to conform to the buyer's expectations. If a Bible is published that does not conform to the buyers expectations, even if it is more accurate, it will not sell. For this reason, we must be willing to do our own investigations into the meaning and interpretation of the text.
Bible Sales Statistics:
Between 1815 and 1975, it was estimated that there could have been 5 billion Bibles printed. In 1995, one version of the bible, the Good News version that is copyrighted by the Bible Societies, had sold nearly 18 million copies. There’s no doubt about it – the Bible is one of the world’s best-selling books. It also proves that God’s Word is a moneymaker for today’s Christian publishers.
-The best selling and fastest growing version of the Bible in the United States is the NIV.
-82% of people who regularly read the Bible will reach for a King James Version before any other.
-There are more than 168,000 Bibles sold or given to others in the United States every day.
-20 million Bibles are sold each year in the United States. That’s more than double the amount that was sold annually in the 1950s.
-The Gideon’s International distributed 59,460,000 Bibles worldwide in 2016. That’s more than 100 Bibles per minute.
-Zondervan, a leading Bible publisher, has more than 350 different versions of the Bible that are in print right now.
-The percentage of Americans who own at least 1 Bible, whether it was given to them or purchased: 92%
-Two-thirds of owners, regardless of religious affiliation, say that the Bible holds the meaning of life.
-The average American Christian owns 9 Bibles and wants to purchase more. For this reason, the Bible is actually excluded from book bestsellers lists because it would always be on top.
-The annual sales of all versions of the Bible routinely tops $425 million.
-Over 100 million Bibles are printed every year.
-In the world today, there are more than 80,000 different versions of the Bible that generate at least 1 sale annually.
-More than 66,000 people are using a Bible app at any given second. 3 people share a Bible verse on their social network every second as well.
-60% of people use a digital Bible at church instead of hauling their own printed Bible.
-Two-thirds of people prefer Bible apps because it gives them access to multiple versions of the Bible without the added cost.
-In 2005, Thomas Nelson, a leading Bible publisher, was sold for $473 million. They publish 60 different editions of the Bible.
-There are 900 different versions of the Bible just in English. There is even one Bible that has been translated into the fictional language of Klingon.
The Original Language:
Many theological discussions, teachings and debates use phrases like "The Bible says," or "God says." From a technical point of view, the problem with these statements is that it assumes the Bible was written in English, which of course we all know is not true.
The Bible does not say, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." A more accurate statement would be, "The Bible says, בראשית ברא אלהים את השמים ואת הארץ (bereshiyt bara elohiym et hashamayim v'et ha'arets), which is often translated and interpreted as, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."
While this may sound trivial, it is in fact a very important issue as many theological differences, divisions and arguments are based on faulty interpretations of the text that could easily be resolved by examining the original language of the Bible. Once the Hebrew text is recognized, its meanings and interpretations can then be discussed properly.
- The Old Testament was predominantly written in Hebrew. (There is also some Aramaic in Daniel and Ezra.)
- The New Testament was written mainly in Greek. (Some discoveries and Historians suggest that sections were originally written in Hebrew and subsequently translated into Greek - Mathew.)
When considering God’s word it’s not as easy as getting a modern Hebrew bible and reading from it, because modern Hebrew Bibles are also based on modern western philosophy and influence. To correctly understand God’s original message we need to look back further in time and consider the original Proto-Sinatic and Paleo Hebrew langauges. I guarantee you that if you make the effort to do this, you will discover God’s word in a whole new light. The treasures that lie in God’s word will blow your minds if you are willing to put the work in to do this.
The earliest known languages were known as Pictographic Languages. (Languages made up of pictures and symbols.)
Pictographic / Symbolic Languages
• these languages contained 1000s of pictures/symbols representing words , ideas & phrases
• similar to today's emojis
• the problem is individual words can be understood to mean many different things, as a picture is worth a thousand words...so this makes it very hard to decipher complete phrases or sentences; as meanings get watered down as more pictures and symbols are added to the equation
Letters / Sounds
• In almost all languages there are only approx. 40 different sounds
• symbols evolved to represent letters, which represented sounds (& numbers) which were then used to express words, ideas & phrases
• slowly letters have lost their symbolic pictographic connection & separate number symbols were developed about 400 years after Jesus
An Ancient Egyptian Papyrus
An early Pictographic Language
In summary: Individual pictographic words may be able to be interpreted, but with each symbol/image the meaning of the overall message gets more diluted, exponentially as each symbol had multiple meanings/interpretations.
I want you to understand that each letter originally related to a symbol and thus it originally held greater meaning then our letters today which are just a reference to a sound we can make with our mouths.
Here is a graphic which shows the development of the first two letters of our Alphabet: (I will cover this in detail below.)
Let's consider now how this development took place and what influences affect language development...
Proto-Sinatic Hebrew was in use about the time of Moses and during this time period there were a number of Sianatic Dialects, all with their own differences, The Semaritans for instance did not go into captivity in Babylon and therefore maintain their original dialect without the Aramaic influence that effected the modern Hebrew. Many of the dialects even had additional letters (some up to 28 characters). Even today's Hebrew language it is believed has lost some of it’s original letters over time. For instance somewhere between the time of Moses and the Dead Sea Scrolls the letter “Ghah” was lost as it was absorbed by the Hebrew letter “ayin”. Which inevitably means some aspects of it’s original pictographic meaning was also completely lost.
The original sounds of letters have also been lost over time so by the time the Aleppo Codex came out. About 1000 years after Jesus a symbol system of dots and dashes to represent sounds called the Niqqud was developed. Thus the Niqqud diacritics are not found on the Dead Sea Scrolls but are on the later Aleppo Codex (Mesoretic Text). (These symbols and the sounds they represent are shown on the charts section of this website.)
Hebrew Language Influences:
• Babylonian Captivity (for example: People in Babylon spoke Aramaic. In Aramaic the word "ab" means "father" and the word for "daddy" is "abba". In Hebrew the word for "Father" is "av", but today the Hebrew language uses both these Aramaic words as well.
• Neighboring Nations affected the development of modern Hebrew. (Aramaic is considered a sister language to Hebrew.) Thus while under captivity in Babylon, the Jews accepted the Aramaic square script for it's letter forms and thus today's Hebrew letters are in actuality Aramaic square script.
Different Dialect Considerations:
• Pronunciation, Inference / Definition , Cultural Influence (ex. - where our thought originate - heart vs. head as mentioned previously);
Tense (past, present, future vs. perfect, imperfect); Grammar / Plurality (multiple vs. emphasis)
• Ancient Hebrew vs. Modern Hebrew – (Letter names have changed over time for example: Wow vs. Vav and Tau vs. Tov)
• Root Words, Word Families / Relationships
• Diacritics/Niqqud (developed after the 5th century - 500 b.c.) & Cantillations (Chanting symbols)
(we are not certain of many original pronunciations – The Niqqud is still mostly not included in the Modern Hebrew today)
Dead Sea Scroll
(no vowel symbols)
(vowel symbols added)
Aspects of Letters and Words to considered when translating the Hebrew…
Translation Considerations / Influences:
• grammar, active vs. passive, idioms, euphemisms, poetry forms
• context (every word has multiple interpretations and translations throughout God’s word)
• root meaning / word relationship (parent root, child root)
• multiple sources (Aleppo Codex , Dead Sea Scrolls , Greek Septuagint)
• symbolic meaning
• numerical value / Gamatria
• pronounciation / diacritics
• authorship / writing style (ex. Paul or each of the apostles – like John vs. Luke)
• eyewitness - perspective (Apostles)
Active vs. passive: in Hebrew a noun can be active or passive. In English nouns are passive and verbs are active.
Idioms – (a manner of expression that is peculiar to a particular language) – “I bent over backwards” = “I tried everything”.
In the bible there are many idioms such as:
- The “breaking of bread” means “to have a meal”.
- If you “possess the gates” it means you have “captured the city”.
- “Flowing with milk and honey” means “to be fertile”.
- “Deliver them into your hands” means “defeat them for you”.
- “seek your life” means “want to kill you”.
- “Lift up your eyes” means “to look towards” something.
In fact there are a number of idioms we use today that came from the bible:
- “the writing is on the wall” = Something bad is going to happen” from Daniel 5 – Belshazzar’s feast.
- “feet of clay” = “weakness” from Daniel 2 - the image of Nebachnezzar
- ”at the eleventh hour” = “the last minute” – from Matthew 20 and the parable of the Laborers that were hired throughout the day.
- “by the skin of your teeth” = “by the narrowest of margins” – a direct quote from Job 19:20.
Euphemism – (using one word in place of another) – eg. Dough = Money. (How did dough come to mean money?...are we to assume baking ingredients were expensive at one point?...)
Here is a Biblical example: Psa. 24:7 “Lift up your heads, O you gates.” “gates” in the hebrew Bible is a word that is a euphanism for “judges”. The cities of Israel had walls and the Judges would hold court at the gates. Thus the Judges came to be known as gates.
- Your “walk” means your “life”.
- Your “seed “means your “descendants”.
- The Biblical Euphemism “slept” means “died”.
- Adam “knew” his wife means had a “sexual relationship” with his wife.
Hebrew vs English letters..
Hebrew Letter Considerations
Hebrew has 5 aspects to each letter:
• Numerical Value
English Letter Considerations
English has 2 aspects to each letter:
English – Upper, Lower case
Hebrew: - Each letter was a Pictograph and some had multiple forms which adjust the meaning being expressed.
Pictographs contain multiple expressions and meanings (a picture says a thousand words). Note: Hebrew has no upper or lower case.
English – Soft, Hard, combined letter sounds, silent letters (anomallies – “colonel” were is the “R” in the word colonel.)
Hebrew: - The first letter of the first syllable of the letter’s name determines it’s sound along with the context of the statement it appears in.
The Niquud system added in the Massoretic text offers further direction.
Hebrew: - Each letters name holds the key to it’s meaning and the relationship to it’s extended family of related words.
Each letter’s name comes originally from a single syllable made up of 2 consonants.
Hebrew: - The meaning behind each Pictograph representing each letter most often refers to it’s function. (ex. Pey – “mouth” – meaning: blow speak open…)
Hebrew: - Each letter has an asigned value which expresses connection and relationship between words, and expressions. Called “Gamatria”.
Separate numbers (characters) only came into being about 400 years after Jesus.
When translating or transliterating a language that has 5 aspects to each letter into a language that only has two you lose at least 3 out of the 5 things being originally expressed just in regards to the individual letters, and that’s before we even consider the additional aspects provided through complete words and sentences.
Poetry: Hebrew Poetic forms
1. Parallelism - Repeating things in different ways. “and”
Psa. 119:105 “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (lamp = light; feet = path)
Gen.1:1-2 "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. 2And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. (verse 2 is just a reiteration of verse one)
Gen. 15:17 "And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces." (two different things did not pass between the pieces, it is just described two different ways.)
2. Chiastic - order
A. Make the heart of this people fat,
B. and make their ears heavy,
C. and shut their eyes;
C1. lest they see with their eyes,
B1. and hear with their ears,
A1. and understand with their heart, and return, and be healed."
Let us consider the Chiastic Structure of Genesis 1:1 to 2:3:
A. Elohim filled the sky and the land because it was empty and it was all in chaos so the wind of Elohim settled upon the water (1:1 to 1:2)
A1. Day 1 - Elohim separates (1:3 to 1:5, Day one)
A2. Day 2 - Elohim separates (1:6 to 1:8, Day two)
A3. Day 3 - Elohim separates (1:9 to 1:13, Day three)
b. Plants spring up from the land
B1. Day 4 - Elohim fills (1:14 to 1:19, Day four)
a. the light with the sun
b. the dark with the moon
B2. Day 5 - Elohim fills (1:20 to 1:23, Day five)
a. fills the water with fish
b. fills the sky with birds
B3. Day 6 - Elohim fills (1:24 to 1:31, Day six)
a. the land with animals and man
b. Plants are given as food
B. Elohim Finishes his separating and filling of the sky and the land and respects the seventh day because in it he did his occupation (2:1 to 2:3, Day seven)
3. Acrostic (each verse or Paragraph starts with the next letter of the Hebrew Alphabet)
Tense: Modern vs. Ancient
Modern Tense: Past, Present, Future
Ancient Tense: Perfect (means something that has already happened), Imperfect (something yet to happen)
Note: something that is guaranteed to happen but has not yet happen can be considered in the Perfect tense.
Modern Hebrew like other languages expresses itself in 3 tenses: “past, present, and future”. Whereas Biblical Hebrew uses the idea of perfect and imperfect tenses. Something spoken of in the perfect tense means it has already been accomplished, imperfect tense means it is yet to be accomplished; that said, something that is seen as guaranteed to be accomplished in the future can also be spoken of in the perfect tense as if it has been completed, even though it has not yet taken place.
Tense in a modern sense relates to time, whereas tense when it comes to Biblical Hebrew relates to action.
In the western world we perceive the past as being behind us and the future lies ahead, but in Eastern and Ancient Hebrew culture this is completely opposite to how they perceive things. The Biblical Hebrew word for yesterday (the past) is ”temol” which comes from the root word “mul” meaning “front”. The Biblical Hebrew word for “tomorrow” (the future) is “mah-her” which is from the root “ahher” meaning ”back”. This is because the Biblical Hebrew view is the past is in front of us (as it is something we can see and understand) and the future is behind us (because it is hidden and unseeable). The Hebrew culture sees time from the perspective of observance. Think about it from the perspective of rowing a boat (you sit in a position that you look out the back of the boat while rowing.) “Walk backwards into the future”, knowing that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday today and tomorrow, knowing that God who began a good work in you will complete that work at the return of Jesus.
Concrete vs. Abstract:
In the western modern world we are fine with abstract concepts. So for instance we are fine with the word “fear” and it is okay that we each may describe what fear is differently. Whereas in the Hebrew the word for “fear” is (a-ph) (Alef, Pey=PH) why do they use this word for fear? Because it also means “nose” or “nostrils”, why because when we get scarred we breathe in which flares our nostrils. Biblical Hebrew will always connect and abstract word to a concrete example. Obviously this dual meaning of words adds to the difficulty of accurate translation. Another example is the Hebrew word “av” which means father, but it is also the Hebrew word for “tent pole”…why? Because just as the tent pole supports the tent, the father supports the household. (The Concrete always makes things personal.)
Consider how we would describe a pencil vs those from biblical times? We tend to describe the look of the pencil vs. in Biblical Hebrew Function is more important then appearance. (We use adjectives and love our adjectives, Hebrew loves verbs, it does not like adjectives.)
Psalms 1:3 “And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.”
Consider that in Gen.6:15 the author is not trying to tell us what the Ark looks like. He is trying to tell us it’s huge and therefore it can hold a lot of animals. Think function not image when reading.
In Genesis 1 we read that "God saw it was “good”. In the Hebrew this word truly means “functional”. Good is abstract, Functional is concrete.
Consider this... are these two things different or the same?
In Western Greco Roman culture an oak tree and a Buck/deer are completely different but in the Biblical Hebrew Eastern Culture an Oak Tree can be considered the same as a Buck (deer) in fact in Hebrew they are both the same word “ayil”. Because the Eastern culture is more interested in “function” it sees both these things as representations of “strength” (the oak is the strongest tree, the buck is the strong leader) therefore in some ways they are considered the same. The Proto-Sianatic Hebrew speaks of a “strong leader”. (Ayil – Aleph-Ox, Yod-Hand, Lamed-Staff) Why does this matter when considering biblical translation?
Look at Psalms 29:9.
NKJV: The voice of the Lord makes the deer give birth,And strips the forests bare; And in His temple everyone says, “Glory!”
NIV: The voice of the LORD twists the oaks and strips the forests bare. And in his temple all cry, "Glory!"
RSV: The voice of the LORD makes the oaks to whirl, and strips the forests bare; and in his temple all cry, "Glory!”
Proto-Sianatic Hebrew: “The voice of the Lord makes the strong leaders turn”.
This same word “ayil” is translated as “valiant” (a strong leader of men) in 2 Kings 24:16.
Genesis 12:3 “I will bless those who bless you, and him who curses you I will curse; and by you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
Proverbs 10:11 “The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.”
Gen. 12:3 Are the red words Abstract or Concrete? (answer abstract in the English — but not in the original Hebrew)
The word “bless” is an abstract word. Strong’s #1288 tells us that “barak” – literally “kneel down” (See. Gen. 24:11). If well look at other words related to this word we see that “berek” means knee and “berakhah” means a “gift” or “present” So the contcrete meaning of this word translated in the English as bless refers to the idea of kneeling down to present a gift to someone (it’s the offering of a gift of value to someone whom you respect) thus it is translated as “bless”.
“arar” – literally “spit” = curse
“I will kneel down to those who kneel down to you, and he who spits on you I will spit on;…”
Prov. 10:11 Are the red words Abstract or Concrete? (answer abstract — but not in the original Hebrew)
“tsadiyq” – literally “correct” = righteous
“rasha” – literally “lost” = wicked
“the mouth of the correct is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the lost conceals violence.” It’s not about a wicked person, it’s about being lost, to depart from the way. (Note these are opposites – this is a Hebrew poetry example. These two words appear about 80 times together in the Bible.)
Summary: So where as we today might say, "It's a beautiful day." The Biblical Hebrew concrete structure would say, "The sun gives warmth on my face."
Gender: Male vs. Female
The important thing to understand here is that in the Hebrew here the word “sin” is in the feminine gender. This means that the male gender references cannot referring to “sin”.
This verse seems to say that Cain is to control “him” but the gender reference “him” cannot be referring to sin because sin is of the feminine gender.
Bible versions and source text:
Many Bible readers often wonder why different translations of the Bible have very different readings of the text. When the various Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek and Latin manuscripts of the Bible are compared, a process called Textual Criticism; we often find variations in how these manuscripts read.
Here is an example showing the differences found in Deut. 32:8.
“el” is a more primitive version of “elohiym”. The early Semetic people used the word “el” to represent the angels mostly, so this is the interpretation given in the NLT version. (here in the greek - Theos)
The Jews did not like this reference to the “angels of God” so in the later Masoretic text, they changed it (on purpose) to the children of Israel”.
Another example can be found in Psalms 145. Notice first that Psalms 145 is an acrostic Psalm. Each sentence/verse corresponds with the Hebrew alphabet (like each 8 verse sections of Psalms 119). Now if you look at verse thirteen and compare the KJV to the RSV for instance you’ll notice an extra sentence in the RSV why because the Aleppo Codev was missing this (what was originally a verse) which is what the King James is translated from; before the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered; and as the RSV was translated from the Dead Sea Scrolls it includes this verse which starts with the Hebrew letter “nun”.
Again in Genesis 4:8 We read that Cain talked with his brother Abel and then it doesn’t tell you what he said. But in the Greek Septuigint we read that Cain said to his brother Abel, “let us go out into the field”.
Western vs. Eastern Culture:
If you were to ask someone from the Western World what they saw in this picture, they would naturally respond a "deer". Why because they can’t see the forest for the trees. If you ask this same question to someone who follows Eastern Philosophy they would answer a "forest" because the deer is just part of a forest much like a tree or every other element in the picture. In Eastern philosophy they can’t see the trees for the forest.
Western vs. Eastern Culture (cont.):
Is the boy in the red hat: Happy or Sad in this first picture?
What about the boy in the red hat in this second picture, is he happy or sad?
The answer in Easter Philosophy is different then in Western Philosophy.
Eastern Philosophy says the boy in the second picture is sad because all his friends are sad. In other words how can anyone be happy when everyone around them is sad?
Consider Genesis 1 from a western vs. eastern perspective: Western focus on beginning and then can’t get past the focus on the time of the event. Eastern focuses on big picture, the most important thing done was filling the earth and the sky. Also in the Hebrew the entire chapter of Genesis 1 is one long run on sentence with a comma at the end of each verse. Why because philisophically speaking its one overall event. The second verse starts with the word “and” which is a way in the Biblical Hebrew to restate what was said in verse one, just in a different way. Whereas the western culture sees the word and as an addition to verse one; in other words it’s the next thing that happened, it’s not seen as a reiteration of verse one.
-Knowing someone by name in Western Philosophy means you barely know the person; in Eastern Philosophy on the other hand this means to intimately know the person, their character etc. (Consider: Isaiah 30:27 “the name of the Lord comes from afar…”)
-In Numbers 15:38 we read, “Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, make fringes (tsiytsiyt) on the corners of their garments.” This Hebrew word tsiytsiyt has come to just mean “decrative fringe” but the Hebrew root of this word is (tsiyts) which means blossom. In biblical times the philosophy was about function so this word was not about the appearance of the blossom, but it’s function; and the purpose of a blossom is to bear fruit. So the children of Israel were to put blossoms on the hem of their garments to be reminded to be fruitful in the Lord. This meaning has been lost through history. So when God told Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply what was he really telling them? What did He imply by using the word fruitful?
Recognize how culture influences translation; for example the KJV 1611 version – A translation from a culture of intimidation and fear of the Lord. Deut. 31:26 “Take this book of the law (Torah = teaching) and place it beside the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, that it may remain there as a witness against you.” The word “against” is not there in the Hebrew. In the Hebrew it says, “as a witness in you”. God’s teachings are supposed to be in you, they are not meant to work against you!
Root Words / Word Families:
Another important aspect in understanding Hebrew comes through the appreciation of the relationship of Hebrew word families. The vast majority of Hebrew words are made up of a parent root word consisting of 2 letters and/or a child root word which contains 3 letters. These root words contain the essence of each word's meaning. Understanding this word structure is key to understanding word families and this is at the heart of truly coming to an appreciation of the depth of each Hebrew word.
In English king would be the root, kingdom comes from the root, in that the kingdom is the realm of the king.
In Hebrew adding the Feminine suffix “hey” spells “queen” this connection to the king is lost in the English.
There are 2 ways to say son, in the Aramaic –”bar” in the Hebrew “ben” (Psalms 2:7 = ben; Psalms 2:12 = bar)
One way to say "son” in Hebrew is the word "ben" as it is spelled with two Hebrew letters (bet, nun - בן) it is a parent root word; and other related words are created by adding letters to this parent root. Each Hebrew letter has a symbolic meaning attached to it and the letter "bet" symbolically stands for a "house"; the Hebrew letter "nun" relates to activity, prosperity, seed, life, continuation. So now here is where the relationship of words and root words comes in. The word for "build" in Hebrew is "benah", which is spelled bet, nun, hey - בנה . We can see that one letter, the letter "hey" is added to the word "son" to create the word "build". So the "son" in Hebrew through it's relationship to it's family can be seen as the one who builds the household. It was therefore imperative for an ancient Near Easterner to produce sons for the building up of the household.
This thought of producing sons in order to build the family is communicated in a couple of places in the book of Genesis. The first is displayed in the scene where Sarai is tired of waiting for the son that God had promised to Abram so she comes up with her own plan of action. In Genesis 16: 1-2 we read, "Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. And she had an Egyptian maidservant whose name was Hagar. So Sarai said to Abram, “See now, the Lord has restrained me from bearing children. Please, go in to my maid; perhaps I shall obtain children (I will build-בנה) by her.” The literal translation of "perhaps I shall obtain children by her" above should read "perhaps I will build from her". Sarah understood that producing a son would be her honorable participation in building the family.
This is also displayed again in a scene with Jacob and Rachel. After her sister Leah had borne four sons to Jacob she desperately and competitively devises another construction plan. In Genesis 30:1-3 we read, "Now when Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children (she had not borne to Jacob), Rachel envied her sister, and said to Jacob, “Give me children (literally sons), or else I die!” And Jacob’s anger was aroused against Rachel, and he said, “Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?” So she said, “Here is my maid Bilhah; go in to her, and she will bear a child on my knees, that I also may have children by her (I will build-בנה, also I, from her” Again the literal translation of "that I also may have children by her" literally reads "I will build, also I, from her" and shows us the ancient connection between building and sons.
These letters based on root/family relationship shows us that Jesus the Son of God was sent to build a kingdom, a household, and a family. — Mark 6:3 "After all, is this not the carpenter...?"
Proto-Sianatic Hebrew Root Words:
ETZ = Tree
Ayin = See / Experience
Tsade = Desire / Need
—When we look at trees we “see” God as Romans states, He has been clearly visible in what has been made. And upon seeing we understand our need for Him.
DG = Fish
Dalet – door = back and forth (in and out)
Gimel – foot
—The back and forth movement of a fish is it’s tail. I wonder if this is where we got the word dog from the movement of it's tail?
EL = God
Aleph = Strong
Lamed = Authority / Lead
—God is the strong authority. As an aside this is also where Kings' (who are strong leaders/Authorities) got the idea of a having a crown and scepter; from the ox horns and the staff of this pictogram.
LEK = Walk
Lamed = Authority / Lead
Kaph – Open Palm of a Hand
—When I put a staff in my hand I walk. My staff leads me.
LEV = Heart
Lamed = Authority
Bet = House / Tent
—The authority of our body (household) is our heart. The Biblical Jews saw our thoughts as coming from our heart.
Dem = Blood
Dalet – door = back and forth (in and out) Movement
Mem = Water / Liquid
—Blood is a moving liquid.
How words develop from the Proto-Sianatic Hebrew Roots:
Here's how Hebrew words relate and are developed:
In the Proto-Sianatic Hebrew here we see how the words, Blood, Adam, Red and Earth relate to one another.
The Bible is written in 3 languages
• Hebrew • Aramaic • Greek
Old Testament – mostly Hebrew
New Testament – mostly Greek
Ezra 4:8-6:18 & 7:12-26, Daniel 2:4-7:28, Jeremiah 10:11 – Aramaic
There are also some Aramaic quotes / paraphrases in both the Old and New Testaments.
Some Historians suggest that parts of the New Testament were written originally in Hebrew and then translated into the Greek.
(Books like Mathew for instance are recorded as to have been written in Hebrew,)
For one simple example, at times the Greek translation doesn’t make as much sense as the Hebrew:
In Matt.5:3 we read, in the English translation of the Greek “blessed are the poor in Spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven”. In the Greek, the word used here is ‘ptokos” which means ”poor” or “destitute”. So this is saying, “those who are lacking the spirit are going to inherit the kingdom.” Now the Hebrew word for “poor” is “aneem” spelled “ayin”, “nun”, “yod”, but this word in Hebrew can also mean “humble”. The Greek word ‘ptokos” doesn’t mean “humble”. Now we see how the Hebrew actually makes more sense then the Greek in places. Here in Matt. 5:3 according to the Hebrew it should be read as, “blessed are the humble in Spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” That makes sense!
There are Hebrew words that are transliterated and translated all throughout the New Testament.
In fact the Oxford Dictionary in it’s first edition of 1958 said, Hebrew “ceased to be a spoken language around the fourth century BC”, but now it says in it’s 1997 third edition, Hebrew “continued to be used as a spoken and written language in the New Testament period.”
As an example of someone quoting Aramaic, consider Jesus quote from the cross:
Mark 15:34 "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?"
Matt. 27:46 "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?”
Psa. 22:1 (Original Hebrew) "Eli, Eli, lama azavtani"
While sabachthani is valid Mishnaic Hebrew, the fact that Jesus is quoting the Aramaic Targum (“sabachthani”) rather than the canonical Hebrew version (Psa. 22:1 “azabtani”) would indicate that he was speaking Aramaic.
In Mark 15;34, the word that Jesus is said to use for God is ελωι (Eloi) rather the ηλι (Eli) recorded in Matthew 27:46. Yet those who hear his words suggest he is calling for Elijah. The conventional nickname or shortened form of Elijah is “Eli,” which also means “my God,” and this is precisely what Matthew has in this passage. In contrast, Mark’s “Eloi” with a long “o” sound (as the Greek of Mark clearly indicates by writing it with an omega, not a shorter omicron*) is distinctly different in sound from “Eli,” the name of Elijah. This difference in sound is even more distinct in the original languages. Thus the original version of what Yeshua appears to have said is Matthew’s “Eli,” which must have been spoken in Hebrew in order for the bystanders to mistakenly think he was calling out to Elijah.
It appears Jesus begins with the Hebrew “eli, eli” and ends with the Aramaic “sabachthani”- Hmm?
Language Development from Hebrew to English:
The Hebrew "Aleph" became the Greek "Alpha" which became the English "A"
The Hebrew "Bet" became the Greek "Beta" which became the English "B"
In Hebrew we learn the Aleph-Bet.
In English we learn the Alpha-bet.
The Hebrew Alphabet:
Note: Hebrew reads from right to left.
It is also interesting to note that Zeph. 3:9 states, “For then I will restore to the peoples a pure language, That they all may call on the name of the Lord, To serve Him with one accord.” The Hebrew word here translated in the English as "restore" is the Hebrew word which literally means “flip”. The Hebrew then suggests that when God restores the language in order for us to serve Him in one accord we will most likely all speak Hebrew and will once again read from right to left. The depth of the meaning of this prophecy only becomes more interesting when we consider the fact that it follows the only verse in the entire bible (Zeph. 3:8) that contains all 22 letters and the 5 sofits of the Hebrew alphabet. Is this just a coincidence? I will leave that up to you to decide.
Note: Sofits are alternate letter forms that are used when the letter is used at the end of a word.
22 Letters – 4 Variants – 5 Soffits – (No Vowels)
The Hebrew Language is made up of compound words…
The Hebrew language works around the root words being verbs and then suffixes and prefixes added to the verb to create a more complete expression by revealing the tense, gender etc.