Tag Archives: Hebrew

Lost in Translation – Are our English Bibles accurate?

While the Old Testament Scriptures and the New Testament Writings are most definitely inspired by God, the Translations we carry are not. Translation is an extremely hard task with so many variables, since it is done by human beings with their own thoughts, ideas, doctrines & biases. The mere fact that there are so many different English Translations should show us that there are issues with our translations that lead to erroneous doctrines and twisting of God’s Word. These additions, subtractions and changes whether done in purpose or not, effect how we read and perceive the Bible. It is of utter importance to look into these changes and be informed so that we get to know the unadulterated truth.

Foxe's_Book_of_Martyrs_-_Tyndale

We must all be thankful for the people who have spent their precious time, resources and sometimes done it under duress – so that we have a translation which we can read. In this sense, the following inspection is in no way an attempt to undermine the work of Translators but an undertaking, so that we are all informed of the less than perfect translations we are left with to learn from.

While this post will not provide an exhaustive list of all additions, subtractions and changes seen in our English Translations, I hope to provide some key flaws I have noted in my own personal study. You are most welcome to provide your findings – so that I can add them into this post!

Deu 4:2  Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.
Deu 12:32  What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.
Pro 30:6 Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.
Mat 5:19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
Rev 22:18,19 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

With dire warnings against Adding to and Subtracting from God’s Word, we should shudder about the fact that such additions, subtractions and changes still exist in our translations. These could be categorized under the below list:
1) God’s Name & Christ’s Name
2) Parenthesis
3) Additions & Changes
3) Mistranslation & Bias

1) God’s Name & Christ’s Name
The word “LORD” in capital letters can be seen in our English Translations over 6500 times, and each of those times the root Hebrew word is “יהוה” (Yod-Hay-Vav-Hay) or YHVH commonly known as the Tetragrammaton. While there is a Hebrew Word for the title “Lord” which is “אדני” Adonai, wherever our Bible Translations have “LORD” in CAPITALS, it is signifying God’s Divine name. In a few rare instances in the King James Version, God’s Divine Name is seen in it’s original form as “JEHOVAH” – a very close transliteration to the original Yehovah (Exo 6:3,Psa 83:18,Isa 12:2,Isa 26:4). Can God’s name, known as His Memorial Name(Hos 12:5), My Holy Name(Eze 39:7) & My Name(Isa 42:8, Jer 16:21) be substituted with a mere title such as Lord? One of the biggest changes seen in our translations is that all of them mask God’s one true name. (Read this article for further study)

But it does not stop there. It comes as a shock to many people to know that “Jesus” was not the name that Christ was addressed by, by any of His disciples or any contemporaries of His day. Even though the name Jesus is seen close to 1000 times in the New Testament translation, The Hebrew Name He was known by was “ישׁוּע” “Yeshua” the same name given to Moses’ aid commonly known as Joshua.  In two instances in the King James Version, Joshua is even referred to as Jesus (Acts 7:45, Heb 4:8) proving that the two names Jesus and Joshua are derived from the same name. But how did the name “Yeshua” end up being turned to “Jesus”? This is the cause of transliterations done from Hebrew to Greek to Latin to German to English. (Read this article for further study)

Almost all of the names we read in our English Translations are anglicized versions of the originals. Even though there are too many to point out, a few key names are mentioned below. Mary’s true name is “Miriam”(the same name as Moses’ Sister), John is “Yochanan”, Jude, Judas and Judah is “Yehudah”, James and Jacob is “Yaakov”, Matthew is “Mathityahu”, Simon is “Shi-mon”, Thomas is “Taome”, Saul is “Sha-ul”, Eve is “Chavah”, Isaac is “Yitzach”, Isaiah is “Yeshiyahu”, Solomon is “Sh-lomo” and so on. This begs the question – can we change or Anglicize names? If we can’t do it to our own names… how come we change Biblical names?

2) Parenthesis
Translators use words or phrases in certain instances to help readers understand verses. But many of these additions marked by bracket marks or italicized letters are thought by readers to be part of the original text. Thus the translators make certain decisions in the interpretation of Scripture which has a profound impact on readers perception and understanding which may not be accurate at certain times.
A) Mark 7:19 –  (Thus he declared all foods clean.)
One of the biggest cases against God’s Food Laws, is based on Mark 7:19 in which Christ is making a statement about the question in context – “Does one become unclean by eating with unwashed hands?”. The translators add “(Thus he declared all foods clean.)”, thereby making Christ an advocate of breaking God’s Food Laws. This insertion seen in translations such as ESV, NIV, NLT, NASB, NET, etc., gives a wrong understanding to the lay reader. (Read this article for further study)
B) Heb 8:7, Heb 8:13, Heb 9:1 – Covenant
The Word “Covenant” appears in the Letter to the Hebrews a number of times. But the translators have inserted this all important word in 3 places thereby changing the whole context of the Letter. The main question addressed in this Letter is the “Priesthood”(8:1), and not the Covenant. By inserting the word to where it does not exist, the translators thereby change the context of the priesthood towards the covenant, which has led to “Hebrews” being used as a proof text to say that “Old Covenant” is done away. There is no argument that when a certain line speaks about the first (as in priesthood), inserting the word “covenant”, changes the context to a completely different path. (Read this article for further study)

3) Additions & Changes
In some instances two sets of Manuscripts may have vast differences, which are carried to different English translations, making different versions of translations carry completely different verses. While some of these are rectified in newer editions, some ideas which were not communicated by the writers may end up and remain in our translations to this day.
A) Rev 22:14 – “Blessed are those doing His Commands” or “Blessed are those who wash their robes”

H.B. Swete's The Apocalypse of St. John... (3rd edn; Macmillan, 1911), p. 307.

Difference between Rev 22:14 – “Blessed are those doing His Commands” or “Blessed are those who wash their robes “H.B. Swete’s The Apocalypse of St. John… (3rd edn; Macmillan, 1911), p. 307.

In the conclusion of Revelation written by John, some of our translations (NIV, NLT, ESV, NASB, ISV, NET, ASV) say “Blessed are those who wash their robes”  while other translations (KJV, YLT) carry “Blessed are those doing His Commands”. The change comes from two different sets of Manuscripts. While the Greek text of the two versions (as seen above) have minor differences, the messages that the two different versions give out are vastly contrasting. Long before the books were compiled to form “The New Testament,” Rev. 22:14 was quoted, as “Blessed are those doing His Commands”, by Tertullian (CE 208) and by Cyprian (CE 251).

B) 1John 5:7 – “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” or “For there are three that testify”
In some of our translations (NIV, NLT, ESV, NASB, ISV, NET, ASV) this verse says “For there are three that testify” while other translations (KJV, YLT) carry “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” The longer form that is central to Trinitarian Doctrine, is thought to have been added by Desiderius Erasmus in 1522, while they were absent from the first modern Greek critical text published by him in 1516.

C) Mark 16:9-20 – Missing from the oldest Greek Manuscripts
Even though the vast majority of later Greek Manuscripts carry verses 9-20 in the Gospel of Mark, two of the oldest and most respected manuscripts, the Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus, end at verse 8. While there is scholarly consensus on this addition, the question remains why it is still part of our translations. At the least there should be a note accompanied in our translations on this fact.

D) Mattew 28:19 – Missing from the Hebrew Manuscripts of Matthew
It is a known fact that Matthew wrote the Gospel in Hebrew as mentioned by Irenaeus of Lyons in “Against Heresies 3:1:1” written in 180AD. These Hebrew Manuscripts have survived to this day, which was translated by George Howard – Professor of Religion, University of Georgia in 1995. These manuscripts do not contain the words “teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:” which is found in verse 19 of our Bible Translations. Instead the Hebrew Manuscripts merely go on from verse 18 to 20 saying “Go, Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” The command to baptize using a trinitarian creed seems to be missing in the Hebrew Manuscripts. This agrees with the Book of Acts where everyone is baptized in the name of Christ, whilst the trinitarian baptism creed is not mentioned anywhere(Acts 2:38, 8:16, 10:48, 19:5, 22:16). (Read this article for further study)

4) Mistranslation & Bias
There are many occurrences where a translator or set of translators have translated the same word in the Original Greek/Hebrew to different English Words. While this maybe helpful at times, it can also cause quite a lot of confusion, especially when the translation is changing the text to fit a certain idea/doctrine. While there certainly are hundreds if not thousands of such instances, I will point out the main ones I have noticed which makes a vast difference in understanding what we read. I invite you to add any other instances which you have found, so that this article gets improved.

A. H4150 – mô‛êd – Appointed time/place
Gen 1:14  And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:
Lev 23:2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, Concerning the feasts of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts.
The Words highlighted in Red above are the same in the Original Hebrew Manuscripts. The fact is that Gen 1:14 should have been translated as “appointed time/Feast” and not “seasons”, which gives the idea of Spring, Summer, Autumn & Winter. God’s Appointed Times or Feasts depend on the Sun & Moon, and it is fitting for this reason that God created the lights for the calculating of His appointments. (Read this article for further study)

B. H8577 – tannı̂ym – Sea Creatures, Whales, Dragons or Serpants
Gen 1:21  And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
Exo 7:9  When Pharaoh shall speak unto you, saying, Shew a miracle for you: then thou shalt say unto Aaron, Take thy rod, and cast it before Pharaoh, and it shall become a serpent.
Deu 32:33  Their wine is the poison of dragons, and the cruel venom of asps.
The Words highlighted in Red above are the same in the Original Hebrew Manuscripts. Gen 1:21 should not be translated as Whales in any case, as the same word is translated Serpent and as Dragon. Vastly different to the idea which is given in our English translations pertaining the Creation account.

C. Lucifer or Heylel
We are all familiar with the name Lucifer, by which Satan is known in popular culture. But oddly enough the name “Lucifer” does not originate from the Hebrew Text, but from Latin. The Hebrew Haylel (meaning “Shining One”) seen in the Hebrew Manuscripts can only be seen in Isa 14:12. The using of Lucifer here in our translations makes a false claim that this is the name of the Adversary, when there is no mention of such in the Original Manuscripts.  (Read this article for further study)

D. H7585 – she’ôl – Hell or Grave
In some instances “she’ôl” is translated as Hell instead of Grave, when it is very clear that the correct translation should be Grave as in the Ground in burial, rather than a fiery place as communicated in popular media. (Read this article for further study)

E. Luke 23:43 and the placing of the Comma
We are all familiar with the famous words Christ spoke to the thief who believed on the cross. These words are also a central part of the theology that people go to heaven immediately when they die. Most Christians would not know that there are no punctuation marks in the Greek Manuscripts. So the placing of the Comma (marked in red) makes a vast difference to the meaning of the verse. If you place it in between “I say to you” and “today you will be with me”, it could lead us to believe that the thief will be in paradise the same day. Alternatively, if you place the comma in between “I say to you today” and “you will be with me”, it could lead us to believe that Christ is merely proclaiming that the thief will be in paradise. The placement of the comma in our English translations make a vast difference to the message derived from it. See both version below. Whichever version is right, it certainly shows the power of a simple punctuation mark.
• Luk 23:43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
• Luk 23:43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you today, you will be with me in Paradise.”

F. Acts 12:4 – Passover or Easter
In the King James Version the word “pascha-G3957” is translated as “Easter” in Acts 12:4 – a word which is translated “Passover” everywhere else. The word “Easter” is a clear insertion which is foreign to the Greek text, and is not present in any other translation or passage of the Bible.

G. G4864 – sunagōgē – Synagogue
Jas 2:2 (KJV, NET, ESV, ISV) For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment;
Jas 2:2 (NIV) Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in.
Jas 2:2 (YLT, ASV) For if there come into your synagogue a man with a gold ring, in fine clothing, and there come in also a poor man in vile clothing;
The Words highlighted in Red above are the same in the Original Greek Manuscripts. The fact that the believers that James is writing to are attending Synagogue is skewed by some of the translations by replacing the word with “assembly”/”meeting”. While this particular verse is changed, the 50 odd other times “sunagōgē” is seen in the Greek text it has been left translated as “Synagogue”. It begs the question why the translators left the same word in Rev 2:9 & 3:9 as “Synagoge” when it was speaking of a “Synagogue of Satan”. Should it not have been translated as Assembly of Satan or Meeting of Satan to keep it consistent?

H. G5515 – chlōros – Pale Horse or Green Horse
The Famous verse in Revelations where Death comes riding a Pale Horse(6:8) might be not a Pale Horse, but a Green Horse – as the word used there is “chloros” seen translated as Green in Mar 6:39, Rev 8:7, 9:4. You may think what does it matter whether it is “Pale” or “Green”… but could it mean that Death comes through the Green Trees, Fruit, etc food that are eaten? This is why accurate translation is of such importance.

Conclusion
Don’t agree with any of the above? Found out something that you would like to share? Please do let us know, so that we may also learn. There are many things wrong with our translations, but let us also be happy that we are fortunate enough to have a copy of the Bible in our own languages, so that we can read it for ourselves. Let us be thankful to God and ask Him to show us His Truth that we may seek Him alone!

What did Christ, His Disciples & Paul consider as “Scripture”?

Sounds like a silly question, doesn’t it? What was considered as Scripture in the 1st century AD? One would say “Obviously the Bible”. But hang on! Did anyone inclusive of Paul, carry our Bible? Did they carry a Bible at all? Did Paul consider his own writings as Scripture? Did he read or ever hold his letters which were written to specific assemblies in different cities, as Scripture? Let’s check what our Bibles say about the matter.

The Bible – A Brief History
Our current Bibles are composed of 2 sections divided as The Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament in our English Translation consist of 39 books, while the new contains 27.

The New Testament containing 27 books/letters which were first put together in 367, by Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, and is said to have been accepted by the Synod of Hippo Regius in North Africa in 393AD and again accepted by the Councils of Carthage in 397 and 419. The oldest Manuscripts of the New Testament are preserved in Greek – the main language of the 1st Century, while the original works such as Matthew’s Gospel is said to have been written in Hebrew according to Papias.

While there is no scholarly consensus as to when the Old Testament Canon was fixed, some scholars argue that it was done in the time of the Hasmonean dynasty (140BC – 116BC). The Old Testament” as we call it, was completely written in Hebrew and consisted of three divisions – The Torah (5 Books of Moses i.e. Genesis to Deuteronomy), The Nevi’im (Prophets) & The Ketuvim (Writings/Psalms).

The Old Testament divisions can be seen mentioned in the verses below

Luk 24:27  And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.
Luk 24:44  And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.
Joh 1:45  Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.
Act 26:22,23  Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come: That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.
Act 28:23  And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening.

yeshua_scrollThe phrases “Moses”, “Law” or “Law of Moses” in the New Testament, denotes the first 5 Books of the Old Testament which were written by Moses. “Prophets” denotes all the books written by the Prophets such as Jeremiah, Isaiah, Obadiah, Daniel, etc. The Psalms and the rest of the writings together with “Moses” and “Prophets” put together, made up the Old Testament in the 1st Century AD.

1) Law (also known as Moses, Law of Moses or Law) wherever you see these terms referred in the New Testament writing, it means the first 5 Books of the Bible which were written by Moses – Mat 5:17, 7:12, 22:40, Mar 12:26, Luk 2:22, Luk 16:29,31, 24:27,44, Joh 1:45, 5:45, 7:23, Act 6:11, 13:15,39, 15:5, 21:21, 24:14, 26:22, 28:23, 1Cor 9:9, 2Cor 3:15, Heb 10:28, Rom 3:21
2) Prophets which contains all the Major and Minor Prophets – Mat 5:17, 7:12, 22:40, Luk 16:29,31, 24:27,44, Joh 1:45, Act 7:42, 13:15,40, 24:14, 26:22, 28:23, Rom 3:21
3) Psalms (also known as the Writings) which contains the Book of Psalms and the rest of the writings – Luk 20:42, 24:44, Act 1:20

The Format of the Scriptures that were read by Christ, the Disciples & Paul
In our minds whenever we read the New Testament writings, we see everyone opening books and reading from bound books that we are familiar with. But the truth is that there were no bound books at the time. Printing would be introduced 1500 years later. So what was the format of the Scriptures they had? All of the writings were copied on Scrolls made of parchment/Animal skin and rolled and kept. We can see an instance of this in Luke 4:17.

Luk 4:17 And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened(g380) the book(g975), he found the place where it was written,

scribe1In the above verse “opened” should be translated as “unrolled” according to the Greek word used there (G380 – ἀναπτύσσω – anaptussō – Thayer’s Greek Definition: to unroll). Furthermore, the word used for “book” can mean a scroll as the same word (G975 – βιβλίον – biblion)  is seen again in Rev 6:14 translated as Scroll. These scrolls were copied by hand, with the utmost care and it is said that it would take a scribe a whole year and the skins of a whole herd of sheep to create one copy of the 5 books of Moses.

The Availability of the Scriptures that were read by Christ, the Disciples & Paul
Just as most of us imagine Christ, the disciples and even Paul reading a bound Bible, when in fact they were reading rolled up Scrolls – some imagine that the early Christians carried their own copy of the Scriptures. It is very unlikely that the early believers even owned a copy of the Scriptures, as it was quite costly. Only the Synagogues in each of the cities would have a copy that could be read on the Sabbath day when the people assembled together.  

Christ considered what we call the Old Testament as Scripture
Yeshua(Jesus’ true name) speaks of no other writing other than the books of Moses, Prophets & Writings/Psalms as “Scripture” (Mat 21:42, Mat 22:29, Mat 26:54,56,  Mar 12:10,24, Mar 14:49, Luk 4:21, Joh 5:39, Joh 7:38, Joh 10:35, Joh 13:18, Joh 17:12)

The Gospel writers and the disciples considered what we call the Old Testament as Scripture
Gospel writers Mark, Luke, John, other disciples, James and even Peter refers to the Old Testament as “Scripture” (Mar 15:28, Luk 24:27, Luk 24:32, Luk 24:45, Joh 2:22, Joh 19:24, Joh 19:28, Joh 19:36,37, Joh 20:9, Act 1:16, Act 8:32,35, Act 17:2,11, Act 18:24,28, Jas 2:8, Jas 2:23, Jas 4:5, 1Pet 2:6, 2Pet 1:20, 2Pet 3:16)

Paul considered what we call the Old Testament as Scripture
In so many instances Paul refers to the Old Testament calling it “The Scriptures”. (Rom 1:2, Rom 4:3, Rom 9:17, Rom 10:11, Rom 11:2, Rom 16:26, 1Cor 15:3,4, Gal 3:8,22, Gal 4:30, 1Tim 5:18, 2Tim 3:16). Out of this list, of special concern is a beloved verse which almost every Christian knows by heart.

2Ti 3:15-17 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

Paul tells his beloved son Timothy that he has known the Holy Scriptures from the time he was a child. The Holy Scripture mentioned here could only be what we refer as the Old Testament. Paul adds to his words explaining that all of the Scriptures are given by the inspiration of God for teaching, as proof, to correct and to train in righteousness. While most of us read 2Tim 3:16 believing it is speaking of our Bibles when it says “Scripture”, it is clear that Paul is referring to the Scriptures that they had. The Scripture which Timothy was familiar with from the time he was a child. What we refer to as the Old Testament.

Today’s view of the Old Testament and the New Testament
OT NTMany Christians see the Old Testament to have been given only for the Jews/Israel while the New Testament to be given to the Gentile/Christian. While there was no New Testament in the hands of Christ, His disciples or Paul – they would have never imagined of a congregation that believes in Messiah while giving the least bit of attention to the Old Testament – the “Holy Scriptures” in their eyes. The man-made division of “Old Testament” & “New Testament”, has brought only division to the Christian body as a whole. Many denominations have made the True Scripture, an enemy of the Christian. They have turned its oulook into a curse. Something which is “Old” and done away. Only if more Christians would pay attention to what the writers of the New Testament say, in their original context. Today’s Christian is not being built on the foundation of the True Scripture – as most new believers are told to even skip the Old Testament and start with the New. We forget that the Bereans who were called noble, turned to Scripture when it came to checking Paul’s words. If only all of us Christians today, turned to the Scriptures to check whether all of the doctrines taught to us by our pastors, teachers and denominations agreed with Scripture!

Conclusion
While all the proof in the New Testament writings point towards the “Old Testament” being referred to exclusively as Scripture, many Christians today give the “Scriptures” of our Messiah, His Disciples and even Paul, step-motherly treatment. Some are engrossed so much in the New Testament, that they see no reason to read the “Holy Scriptures” as Paul mentioned them. The New Testament is looked upon to provide teaching, proof, correction and training, while the Old Testament is seen as an abolished book today. Paul could not have been referring to His own writings as “Scripture”, as these letters were written to specific individuals and congregations, tackling specific issues distinct to those individuals/congregations. For example, Paul’s letter to the Roman Congregation, was sent to Rome and not Corinth, Colosse, Ephesus, Thessalonica, etc. His letter to Timothy was written specifically to Timothy and no one else.

Furthermore, these individual letters that constitute the New Testament were put together and agreed upon as canonical only in the late 4th Century. The New Testament writings are a necessary part of a Christians life, as it reveals to us about Christ, His disciples and their teachings. But we should not forget that what they considered as “Scripture” was nothing else other than what we call the Old Testament books of Moses, the Prophets & the Psalms. It is time that Christians wake up and give the proper place that “God’s Word” the “Holy Scriptures” deserve!

Law is Hitting the Mark while Sin is Missing the Mark – Insights from Hebrew

LAW! Such a harsh word. A word disliked and abhorred by many Christians. But was this always the case? Why did David delight in the “Law“? (Psa 1:2, 119:70,77,174) Why did Paul – the misunderstood apostle say the same thing?(Rom 7:22). A simple word study into the original Manuscripts of the Scriptures can help us understand God’s Law in new light.

The word commonly translated as “LAW” in our English versions of the Scriptures is “Torah” in the Original Hebrew, and derives from the root word “Yarah”.

Strong’s Hebrew Concordance H8451 –  תּורה – tôrâh 
From H3384; a precept or statute, especially the Decalogue or Pentateuch: – law.
(Brown-Driver-Briggs’ Hebrew Lexicon –  law, direction, instruction)

Strong’s Hebrew Concordance H3384 –  ירה – yârâh  
A primitive root; properly to flow as water (that is, to rain); transitively to lay or throw (especially an arrow, that is, to shoot); figuratively to point out (as if by aiming the finger), to teach: –  (+) archer, cast, direct, inform, instruct, lay, shew, shoot, teach (-er, -ing), through.
(Brown-Driver-Briggs’ Hebrew Lexicon – to throw, shoot, cast, pour)

Looking at the definitions given on the Strong’s Concordance and BDB Lexicon, it is clear that Torah and it’s root word Yarah are connected to “direction & instruction”. And not only is it connected to these ideas, it also denotes “shooting an arrow” or “taking aim”. A few examples of usage of the word “Yarah” is given below.

Gen 46:28  And he sent Judah before him unto Joseph, to direct(H3384) his face unto Goshen; and they came into the land of Goshen.
1Sa 20:20  And I will shoot(H3384) three arrows on the side thereof, as though I shot at a mark.
Psa 64:7  But God shall shoot(H3384) at them with an arrow; suddenly shall they be wounded.
Exo 4:12  Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach(H3384) thee what thou shalt say.
Lev 10:11  And that ye may teach(H3384) the children of Israel all the statutes which the LORD hath spoken unto them by the hand of Moses.
Psa 119:102  I have not departed from thy judgments: for thou hast taught(H3384) me.

Since we have looked at the meaning of Torah, let us look at another word which is closely connected with it in Scripture – the word “SIN”. The word commonly translated as “SIN” in our English versions of the Scriptures is “Chatta’ah” in the Original Hebrew, and derives from the root word “Chatta”.

Strong’s Hebrew Concordance H2403 – חטּאת – chaṭṭâ’âh
From H2398; an offence (sometimes habitual sinfulness), and its penalty, occasion, sacrifice, or expiation; also (concretely) an offender: – punishment (of sin), purifying (-fication for sin), sin (-ner, offering).
(Brown-Driver-Briggs’ Hebrew Lexicon – sin, sinful, sin offering)

Strong’s Hebrew Concordance H2398 – חטא -châṭâ’
A primitive root; properly to miss; hence (figuratively and generally) to sin; by inference to forfeit, lack, expiate, repent, (causatively) lead astray, condemn: – bear the blame, cleanse, commit [sin], by fault, harm he hath done, loss, miss, (make) offend (-er), offer for sin, purge, purify (self), make reconciliation, (cause, make) sin (-ful, -ness), trespassive
(Brown-Driver-Briggs’ Hebrew Lexicon –  to sin, miss, miss the way, go wrong, incur guilt, forfeit, purify from uncleanness)

Looking at the definitions given on the Strong’s Concordance and BDB Lexicon, it is clear that Chatta’ah and it’s root word Chatta are connected to “missing & going astray”. It denotes “missing the mark”. An example is given below.

Jdg 20:16  Among all this people there were seven hundred chosen men lefthanded; every one could sling stones at an hair breadth, and not miss(H2398)

arrow_on_targetThe relationship between Sin and Law
As per John’s explanation in his 1st Epistle, Sin = Breaking the Law(1John 3:4).
While “Law” means to “shoot”, “take aim”, “direct” and “instruct”, “Sin” means to “miss”or “go astray”. If we put this thought in a picture form, “Torah” is an archer who aims/shoots at a target, while “Sin” is the same archer “missing the mark”. If we stop taking aim at the perfect instructions of God, we stand to miss the mark, thereby falling into “Sin”.

Children are like arrows
We see that the teaching of YHVH’s Law to ones child was of utmost importance, being mentioned throughout the Scriptures multiple times (Gen 18:19, Deu 4:9, 6:7, Psa 78:3-6, Eph 6:4, 2Ti 3:15). God wanted His people to guide their children in His ways, and this would have been the reason for the Psalmist to have compared children to arrows held in the hand of a mighty man (Psa 127:4  As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.)

Conclusion
While referring to God’s instructions/directions as “Law” has caused His words to be seen in a negative light, looking at the Original Hebrew Manuscripts open up the words in full color, providing a picture of shooting an arrow at a target. It also helps us understand the reality, that we may miss once in a while, falling into “sin”, but we must keep aiming at the target given to us by our Heavenly Father. We must ask the Holy Spirit to help us and teach us to take aim, and even if we miss, Yeshua(Jesus’ true name) is there to help us at every turn.

The Five Fold Ministry. Before or After Christ?

Most Christians believe that the Five Functions or duties noted by Paul in Eph 4:11, commonly known as the “Five-Fold Ministry” came about after Yeshua(Hebrew name of Jesus). Namely, The Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors & Teachers. Even though we do not see many Apostles, the other categories are seen in almost all “Free Churches” as well as ones from traditional backgrounds.

Are these functions new ones? Were these functions there before Messiah’s appearance, even in Old Testament times? Are these Positions of Power or Duties to be carried out as Servants? These are some of the questions we will try to answer today.

Eph 4:11  And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

In the following explanations of each of these functions, we will also take a closer look at the origins of these titles by looking at the Greek and Hebrew words which the English words derive from. The Strong’s Greek/Hebrew concordance has been used for this purpose, alongside the KJV Translation of the English Bible. 

1. The Apostle
G652 – ἀπόστολος – apostolos – ap-os’-tol-os –
a  messenger, he that is sent

The word “Apostle” in the English language originates from the Greek equivalent “Apostolos” which meant “a messenger” or “one that is sent”. This was not a title specifically made for Christianity, for any messenger would have been called “Apostolos” in Greek. In Joh 13:16, the Greek Word “Apostolos” is translated as “he that is sent” while in 2Cor 8:23 & Philip 2:25 it is translated as “messenger” revealing the true meaning behind the word apostle.

Most people have misunderstood Luke 6:13 to mean that Christ created this new position called “Apostle”. Luk 6:13 And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles. The true meaning should be that He chose 12 amongst His pupils as the ones who would take His message out into the world.

As the word “Apostle” derives from its Greek cognate “Apostolos”, this word cannot be found in the Old Testament. But this does not mean “messengers” who spread God’s Word were not found in the time before Messiah. Haggai was known as the “messenger” of the LORD (YHVH) centuries before the Apostles in the New Testament(Hag 1:13). The priests who worked in the Temple were also known as “messengers” of God(Mal 2:7). The Scripture say that many “messengers” of God were sent before the Babylonian exile(2Chr 36:16).

2. The Prophet
H5030 – נביא – nâbı̂y’ – naw-bee’ –
a prophet or (generally) inspired man: – prophecy, that prophesy, prophet.
G4396 – προφήτης – prophētēs – prof-ay’-tace
a foreteller (“prophet”); by analogy an inspired speaker; prophet.

Much like the “Apostle” which derived from the Greek word “Apostolos”, the English word “Prophet” also derives from the Greek Word “Prophetes”. The Old Testament had many Prophets. Naming them, I think, is unnecessary. Although, I must mention a few to help you understand what it means to be a Prophet. A Prophet is not only the ones who are called, “Prophet – so and so”. Whoever speaks for God, in the name of God, and represents Him, is a Prophet. It is not a designation. It is merely a duty and a description of what the person does. Abraham (Gen 20:7), David (Acts 2:30), Enoch (Jude 1:14) are but a few characters written in the Scriptures who were never known specifically as “Prophets”, even though they were clearly considered Prophets.

Yeshua was also called a Prophet (John 4:44, Luke 4:24, 13:33, Mat 13:57, Acts 3:22,23, 7:37), and prophesying through the Holy Spirit was done before the Day of Pentecost. Zechariah, Father of John, prophesied being filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:67). A person can also prophesy(Say something that comes from God) without knowing it, like Caiphas, the High Priest who prophesied about Yeshua dying for the whole Nation(John 11:51)

The duty of a Prophet could fall onto a Male or a Female. Miriam, Moses’ sister (Exo 15:20). Deborah, the Judge of Israel (Judg 4:4), Huldah (2Kin 22:14), Philip’s four daughters who prophesied (Acts 21:9) & the widow Anna (Luke 2:36) were all female prophets.

It is also important to note that just like some can Prophesy in Truth and in God, some can prophesy falsely saying it is in God’s name(Jer 23:21, 28:15-17, 29:31, Eze 13:7, 1John 4:1). Not all who Prophesy in Christ’s name, is known by Him (Mat 7:22,23).

3. The Evangelist
G2099
– εὐαγγελιστής – euaggelistēs – yoo-ang-ghel-is-tace’
a preacher of the gospel: – evangelist.
G2098 – εὐαγγέλιον – euaggelion – yoo-ang-ghel’-ee-on –
a good message, gospel.
G2097 – εὐαγγελίζω – euaggelizō – yoo-ang-ghel-id’-zo
to announce good news (“evangelize”) especially the gospel: – declare, bring (declare, show) glad (good) tidings, preach (the gospel).

The above 3 Greek words (“yoo-anghelistace”, “yoo-anghel-eeon”, “yoo-ang-elidzo”) are closely connected to the meaning of “Good news”. The word translated as “Gospel” in our English Translations is G2098 – “yoo-anghel-eeon”. So effectively, the word “Evangelist” means a “Preacher/bringer of Good News”. Matt 11:5 is a good example of this fact. “The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. The pharse “the gospel preached to them” is translated into English off a single Greek Word, which is G2097 – “yoo-ang-ghel-id’-zo”. This same word is used as “Preach” in the case of John (Luk 3:18), of the 12 Disciples (Luk 9:6, Acts 5:42), of Christ (Luk 4:43, 7:22, 16:16, 20:1), & of all believers (Act 8:4), making them all Evangelists.

The Greek word “yoo-anghel-idzo” cannot be seen in the Old Testament Scriptures which were written in Hebrew. Much like in the case of the word “Apostolos”, this does not mean the function of an Evangelist (who brings/preaches Good News) was not there in Old Testament times. The word “Evangelist” itself can be seen only 3 times in the New Testament (Eph 4:11, Acts 21:8, 2Tim 4:5) even though the function of an Evangelist (Bringing/preaching Good News) “G2097 – “yoo-ang-ghel-id’-zo” can be seen over 50 times.

In the Old Testament Scriptures, we see that Isaiah is known as one who “preaches good news”(Isa 61:1) which was also quoted by Christ in Luk 4:18. The word used by Yeshua in Luke 4:18 for “preach the gospel” is none other than G2097 – “yoo-ang-ghel-id’-zo”.

The author of Hebrews in Heb 4:2 says “For unto us was the “gospel preached”, as well as unto them“. The word which is translated as “gospel preached” here is G2097 – “yoo-ang-ghel-id’-zo”. Who does the author refer to as “them” in this verse? The context reveals that it is the people of Israel in the Old Testament, which means “Evangelizing” happened in the Old Testament times as well. (Please read Heb 4:6 for a similar verse and Chapter 3 for context)

4. The Pastor
G4166
– ποιμήν – poimēn – poy-mane’
a shepherd (literally or figuratively): – shepherd, pastor.
H7462 – רעה – râ‛âh – raw-aw’
to tend a flock, that is, pasture it; pastor, shepherd.

The word “pastor” is connected to shepherd both in the New Testament as well as in the Old. Not only is it connected, it is more often than not, translated as “Shepherd” throughout the Bible. In fact, the English word “pastor” is seen only in Eph 4:11 while the Greek word that it is translated from (G4166 – poy-mane), is seen 18 times in the New Testament, translated as “shepherd” into English 17 out of 18 times(Mat 9:36, 25:32, 26:31, Mar 6:34, 14:27, Luk 2:8,15,18,20, Joh 10:2,11,12,14,16, Heb 13:20, 1Pe 2:25)

The English translation of the Old Testament contains the word “pastor” many more times (Jer 2:8, 3:15, 10:21, 12:10, 17:16, 22:22, 23:1,2) than the New Testament which contains it only once(Eph 4:11). But similar to the New Testament Translation of the word “Pastor”, the actual meaning of the Hebrew word(H7462 – raw-aw) which is translated in these instances is “shepherd”. The word “shepherd” itself is used in the capacity of “leader” in the Old Testament (Isa 56:11, 63:11). Even though “G4166 – poy-mane” & “H7462 – raw-aw” are translated as “pastor” in some places and “shepherd” in others, the true meaning is “shepherd” (a leader of a flock).

5. The Teacher
G1320 – διδάσκαλος – didaskalos – did-as’-kal-os –
an instructor (generally or specifically): – master, teacher.

The Greek word which is translated as “teacher” in Eph 4:11, is in most places translated as “Master” (mosty pertaining to Yeshua). The true meaning of the word is instructor/teacher, as the Greek word “G1320 – didaskalos” derives from the word “G1321 – didasko” which means “to teach”.

The Old Testament Scriptures also prove that there were many teachers appointed by God before the time of Christ. Moses was a teacher appointed by God (Exo 24:12, Deut 4:5). There were appointed people who went around the land of Israel teaching God’s Word (2Chr 17:8-10). The tribe of Levi were instructors of God’s Word and His ways (Deut 17:9-11, 24:8, 33:8-10, 2Chr 30:22, 35:3). The priests (Aaron’s sons) were mainly appointed to teach God’s people (Lev 10:8-11, 2Chr 15:3, 2Kin 12:2). Samuel who was a judge of Israel was also a teacher (1Sam 12:23). Nehemiah and Ezra were also teachers (Neh 8:9) along with a host of others (Neh 8:7). It was a Commandment of God to teach everyone in Israel, man, woman & child (Deut 31:11-13).

Positions or Duties? Leaders or Servants?
In some Christian congregations today, being an Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor or Teacher carries a sense of power and hierarchy. These have become titles and designations rather than functions in the body of believers. It is important to respect everyone, from a fellow believer to one who is appointed to lead/serve. But sad to say, this respect has been misused, and at times, changed into positions of power.

Christ is the embodiment of all the 5 functions mentioned in Eph 4:11.
He was an Apostle (“one that is sent”) sent by Our Heavenly Father. (Joh 5:30, 6:39, 8:42, 17:8)
He was a Prophet (“one who represents & speaks for God”). (Mat 13:57,Luk 13:33, Joh 6:14, 7:40
He was an Evangelist (“one who preaches Good News”). (Matt 11:4,5, Luk 4:18, 8:1, 20:1)
He was a Pastor (“Shepherd”). (Matt 25:32, 26:31, Joh 10:11,14, Heb 13:20, 1Pet 2:25)
He was a Teacher (“one who teaches God’s Word”). (Mat 10:24,25, 22:16, Joh 1:38, 3:2, 13:13)

wash feetEven though He was the epitome of Righteousness and God’s image, what did He say to His Disciples under Him? What was the example He left with His followers who were to become leaders in the body of believers?

Joh 13:14,15  If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.
Mat 20:26  But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
Luk 22:25-27  And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve. For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth.

Whoever is appointed to serve, whether he/she be an Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor or Teacher, they are all servants. And according to the example left to us by Yeshua, whoever is a leader, is in fact a servant who is humble enough to wash the feet of whoever is put under his/her authority.

Conclusion
The “Five fold Ministry” is thought by many to have been instituted after Yeshua, even though there are clear indications that all of these functions existed well before New Testament times. Most of these misunderstandings have come about because of the English translations we read. As seen in the evidence above, even though most of these cognate words (English words that have derived straight from the Greek counterparts – eg. Apostle & Apostolos, Evangelist & Yooanghelistace) cannot be seen in the Hebrew Old Testament Scriptures (because they derive from Greek), it does not necessarily mean that the function did not exist in Old Testament times.

Not only were all of these functions or services there in the Old Testament era, they were part and parcel of God’s Word. Accordingly Christ Himself embodied all of these functions, acting as a servant rather than one who is served, leaving His Church an example to follow. “whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant”.

What is the Biblical definition of the phrase “Word of God”.

Some Words AbolishedAll of us, as Christians believe that we must obey the Word of God. But what exactly is the Biblical Definition for the “Word of God”? Is it the whole Bible? Or is it part of the Bible? Can parts of God’s Word, even be done away? What did Christ refer to as the “Word of God”? As followers of Christ, we must have a clear understanding of this definition, and this is exactly what we hope to research in this short study.

In an earlier post (What does it mean to be like a “Berean”?) we learned that Christ, His disciples and all of the writers of the New Testament agreed that “Scripture” in their eyes was what we call, the “Old Testament”. A basic knowledge of History would allow anyone to know that the New Testament writings were compiled almost 3 Centuries after the time of Christ. If this is so, what did Christ and all His disciples refer to as the “Word of God”. Let’s look at the evidence.

1. Christ said that Man lives not by food alone, but by the “Word of God” quoting Deut 8:3

Mat 4:4  But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
Luk 4:4  And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.
Deu 8:3  And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.

We can conclude that every Word that proceeds from the Mouth of God is known as the “Word of God” by comparing Mat 4:4 with Luk 4:4. We can also understand that the “Word of God” referred by Christ in these verses, is the same as what was referred to by Moses in Deut 8:3, as this is the exact verse quoted by Messiah.

2. Christ confirms that God’s Commandments given through Moses is the “Word of God”

Mar 7:9-13  And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death: But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free. And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother; Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.

In the above passage, Yeshua(Jesus’ true name) rebukes the Pharisees telling them that they are breaking God’s Commandments by keeping their own traditions (Please read about the Pharisees for a clearer explanation on what they believed). One of the most important things that many glance across in this reading, is that Christ calls the Commandments of God, given through Moses as the “Word of God”.

3. Christ preached the “Word of God”

Luk 5:1  And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret,

Christ preached the Word of God as clearly stated in the above passage. If the “Word of God” was (by His own definition), the writings of Moses, then this means that what He preached came from what we now call the Old Testament. (Much of the misunderstandings, such as Christ abolished the Law, comes from a weak knowledge of what He preached. Read an example here)

4. Christ called whoever hears the “Word of God” and does it, “Blessed” and also part of “His own Family”

Luk 11:28  But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.
Luk 8:21  And he answered and said unto them, My mother and my brethren are these which hear the word of God, and do it.

5. The “Word of God” stands forever according to Isaiah and Peter

Isa 40:8  The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.
1Pe 1:24,25  For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.

We see Peter quoting the words written by Isaiah agreeing with him, that “God’s Word” stands forever, which means it cannot fade away or be abolished.

6. Christ says that “Scripture” (which is the Old Testament) cannot be broken, and refers to it as the “Word of God”

Joh 10:34,35  Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken;
Psa 82:6  I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.

In the above verse we see Christ quoting Psalms 82:6, and goes on to say that Scripture cannot be broken (done away/abolished). Furthermore, He calls the people who received this Word (which is in Psalms, which is part of the Old Testament) as the ones to whom the “Word of God” came. Thereby making “The Word of God” equal to “The Scriptures” or “Old Testament” as it is known today.

7.Conclusion
Yeshua saw every word that proceeded from God’s Mouth as “The Word of God”, and clearly equaled it to the writings of Moses in the Old Testament. In the Old Testament we see clear phrases such as “The LORD (Yehovah) spoke”(Exo 25:1) or “The Word of the Lord came”(Gen 15:1) that refers to “God’s Word” or the “Word of God”.

Even though much of today’s believers are taught that some parts of the Bible are no longer valid for them, and that the “Word of God” is the New Testament Writings, looking at the evidence, we can conclude that “The Old Testament” was regarded as the “Word of God” by our Messiah. If anyone teaches or believes that the Old Testament is done away, they are inadvertently saying that God’s Words are abolished.

It is time that we ask ourselves important questions such as, can parts of God’s Word be abolished, done away or removed?… When Peter and Isaiah both say that “The Word of God” endures forever. Through Yeshua’s own Words and testimony it is clear that this cannot be, and that He regarded “The Scriptures” which is “the Old Testament” as the authoritative “Word of God”. As a follower of Christ, what do you believe?

Was the New Testament written in Greek or in Hebrew?

A common fact that is taught to all Christians is that the Old Testament was written in Hebrew while the New Testament was written in Greek. There is consensus among all Biblical Scholars that the Old Testament was indeed written in Hebrew. But not all scholars agree on the point that the New Testament was written in Greek. Even though most of the remaining Manuscripts of the New Testament are all in Greek, there is evidence that parts of the New Testament would have indeed been written in Hebrew and subsequently translated to Aramaic, Greek and any other languages of the day.

Matthew wrote his account of the Gospel, in Hebrew

British Library Ms Add No. 26964 Manuscript of Hebrew Matthew

One of the best pieces of evidence that exists to prove that the New Testament may have originally been written in Hebrew, is “The Gospel of Matthew”. This Gospel account which is regarded as the earliest out of the 4 Gospels contained in our Bibles, come from Matthew who was surnamed Levi and who was a Tax Collector previously. He was a Hebrew speaking man just like all of the other Disciples of Christ. There are quite a few historical witnesses who have spoken how Matthew wrote his account of the Gospel in Hebrew.

“Matthew also issued a written Gospel among the Hebrews in their own dialect, while Peter and Paul were preaching in Rome and laying the foundation of the Church. After their departure, Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, did also hand down to us in writing what had been preached by Peter. Luke also, the companion of Paul, recorded in a book the Gospel preached by him. Afterwards John, the disciple of the Lord, who also had leaned upon his breast, did himself publish a Gospel during his residence at Ephesus in Asia.”
(Irenaeus of Lyons – Against Heresies 3:1:1 – 180AD)

“Among the four Gospels, which are the only indisputable ones in the Church of God under heaven, I have learned by tradition that the first was written by Matthew, who was once a publican, but afterwards an apostle of Jesus Christ, and it was prepared for the converts from Judaism and published in the Hebrew language
(Origen – Commentaries on Matthew [cited by Eusebius in History of the Church 6:25] – 244AD).

“Matthew had begun by preaching to the Hebrews, and when he made up his mind to go to others too, he committed his own Gospel to writing in his native tongue, so that for those with whom he was no longer present the gap left by his departure was filled by what he wrote” (Eusebius – History of the Church 3:24 – 300-325AD).

Matthew compiled the sayings [of the Lord] in the Hebrew Dialect, and everyone translated them as well as he could”
(Papias – quoted by Eusebius, Eccl. Hist. 3:39 – 150-170AD)

Hebrew Word Puns
The second reason to take this claim seriously is the amount of “Word Puns” that the Hebrew Manuscripts of Matthew contain. While the Greek Manuscripts make little or no sense in these particular places, the Hebrew gives a rich poetic feel to the Words of Yeshua (Jesus’ true name). While the Old Testament is dotted with these Word Puns, the Greek to English Translation of the New Testament does not contain such attributes. The Hebrew version of Matthew was administered to a serious study by Professor George Howard in the 1980’s, and can be further studied through his book “Gospel of Matthew According to a Primitive Hebrew Text by George Howard”. (You can read the 1st edition of his book here) Professor Howard reviews these Word Puns contained in the Hebrew Manuscripts, in his book from page 194 – 201 which can be viewed through the above link.

Furthermore, Martin Luther, the Protestant Reformer from the 16th Century had this to say about Hebrew and the New Testament

“The Hebrew language is the best language of all … If I were younger I would want to learn this language, because no one can really understand the Scriptures without it. For although the New Testament is written in Greek, it is full of Hebraisms and Hebrew expressions. It has therefore been aptly said that the Hebrews drink from the spring, the Greeks from the stream that flows from it, and the Latins from a downstream pool.”
(Martin Luther, Table Talk, quoted in Pinchas E. Lapide, Hebrew in the Church, trans. Erroll F. Rhodes – Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1984).

What difference does it make?
One of the questions that could be running through your mind right about now, could be “What difference does any of this make to my walk with God?”. What we believe today hinges completely on the Translations we read in our own native languages. Most of these translations are, translations of translations. Meaning the Greek Manuscripts get translated to Latin, then English, then into other languages from thereon. Much of the original essence could be lost in translation. A great example for this is the misunderstood sect called the Pharisees. Many Christians believe that the Pharisees were the ones keeping the Old Testament Laws. This is not Biblically accurate. (Please read this study to know more about the Pharisees). If we were familiar with the Hebrew version of Matthew, this would have been obvious. Let me explain:

Our Bibles (which are translated from the Greek Manuscripts) read in Mat 23:3 regarding the Pharisees as follows:
All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.
The Hebrew Manuscripts of Matthew read the same verse as follows:
Therefore all that he says to you, diligently do, but according to their reforms(Takanot) and their precedents(Ma’asim) do not do, because they talk, but do not do.

If you are familiar with what the Pharisees taught and believed you would know what “Takanot” and “Ma’asim” refer to. These are traditions and customs that they added into God’s Word (The Holy Scriptures). “Takanot” and “Ma’asim” were sometimes even regarded more important or higher than God’s Word. Examples for Takanot and Ma’asim are, the “Washing of Hands” mentioned in Mat 15:2 and “The Breaking of the Sabbath by plucking corn” mentioned in Mat 12:2. The Hebrew Matthew gives us a better understanding of what went on in such instances, while our own Bible translations are silent on these issues.

Conclusion
There are many more instances where the Hebrew Manuscripts shed light on the Gospel stories as well as towards the collective understanding of the New Testament. While I believe that much of the New Testament would have been indeed written in Hebrew, (the native language of most of the New Testament writers) we must acknowledge that much of the Manuscripts that have survived are Greek in nature. My effort is not to say that we should get rid of the Greek Translations that we have, but to say that we must make an effort to look at all sources when studying Scripture. If these Hebrew Manuscripts were studied a little closer, maybe we wouldn’t have  grave misunderstandings regarding the characters such as the Pharisees, which has in turn led people to believe that the Old Testament has been done away with, or whoever believes or does what is said in the Old Testament are Pharisaic in nature.

Though much of the New Testament Manuscripts that we have are in Greek, most of these would have been translations of the Originals which were Hebrew. And along the way, through translation and time, we have lost most of the essence, context and connections that the originals had to the people, places and atmosphere that these books and letters were written in. It is my firm belief that we need to go back to the Roots of our Faith, in search of “True Christianity”, not one which is divided, but one which is in agreement with the entirety of Scripture being one body with Christ.

The meaning, the Character and Pronunciation of Almighty God’s Name YHVH

In one of the previous studies I presented to you, the evidence that the name of our Father, the Creator of Heaven & Earth, was clearly communicated to us through His Word ; and that this name appears throughout the Scriptures (more than 6000 times) even though it has been changed to LORD in our English translations. Wherever you come across the word “LORD” printed in CAPITAL letters in your English bibles, it is an instance where God’s name is expressly mentioned. (For a better understanding, please read the first part of this study)

Wherever you see “LORD” in the English translations, the Original Hebrew Manuscripts read “יהוה“ ; or the equivalent in English, which is “YHWH” or “YHVH”. But how do you read “YHVH”? or better yet, pronounce it? The earliest Hebrew manuscripts did not have a vowel system. The readers of that day knew exactly how to pronounce each of the words without having vowels. Today, “YHVH” also known as the “Tetragrammaton” (A fancy word which means “four letters” in Greek) is considered by some, to be too holy to utter, and unpronounceable by others.

In this study, I will attempt in helping you understand the meaning of God’s Holy Name and provide you with the clearest evidence at hand for pronouncing this Eternal Name.

The below study is broken down into 5 parts

  1. Names that have meaning
  2. The Meaning of God’s Name & His Divine Character
  3. Does God really have a name? and is it really YHVH?
  4. Pronouncing the name YHVH
  5. The facts behind my belief of YHVH being pronounced as Yehovah
  6. Conclusion


1. Names that have meaning

In my culture, when most parents name their kids, they look at the first letter of their own names and use that letter to come up with a name for their newborn. For Example, if the parent’s name is Roger, the child will be named with a name that starts with the letter R, such as Richard. This was not the case in Biblical times. In the Old Testament & the New, we see parents naming their kids according to what the child represented, or what they wanted the child to represent. The name stood as a witness to the persons character. In fact, their is hardly any name that did not have any meaning, in the Old Testament.

For Example,
Gen 3:20
  And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living. (H2332 – חוּה – chavvâh – Lifegiver)
Gen 17:5  but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee. (H85 – אברהם – ‘abrâhâm – Father of a multitude)
Gen 25:26  And after that came his brother out, and his hand took hold on Esau’s heel; and his name was called Jacob: (H3290 – יעקב – ya‛ăqôb – Heel Catcher)
Gen 29:35  And she said, Now will I praise the LORD: therefore she called his name Judah; and left bearing. (H3063 – יהוּדה – yehûdâh – Praise/Celebrate)
Exo 2:10  And she called his name Moses: and she said, Because I drew him out of the water.
(H4872 – משׁה – môsheh – Drawing out)
Mat 1:21  And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. (H3091- יהושׁע – yehôshûa‛ – Yehovah Saves)


2. The Meaning of God’s Name & His Divine Character

Just as people in the Scriptures, indicated the meaning of a name or character of the person, alongside the given name (as shown in the examples above), God also indicated the meaning of His name to Moses in much of the same fashion.

Exo 3:13-15 And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them? And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you. And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.

Moses asked God a legitimate question in the above verse. “When the people ask me who sent me, what shall I say Your name is?” To which God answered with “His character” or “Meaning of His name“,I AM THAT I AM. But He did not stop there. He then went onto say, You shall tell the people YHVH (LORD in English Capital Letters have been substituted wherever “יהוה“ [YHVH] is written in the Original Manuscripts) God of your Fathers, Abraham, Isaac & Jacob has sent me to you.

The meaning of  YHVH – I was that I was, I am that I am, I will be that I will be
Just as Eve means Lifegiver, Abraham means Father of Multitude, Jacob means Heel catcher, Judah means Praise, Moses means Drawn out, Yeshua(Jesus’ real name) means YHVH Saves, the meaning of YHVH is in the statement “I AM THAT I AM” or at least the Hebrew words which are היה(I AM) אשׁר(THAT) היה(I AM).

H1961 – היה – hâyâh – Read explanation given below
H834 – אשׁר – ‘ăsher – Translated as “that”, “which” or “whom” most of the time
H1961 – היה – hâyâh – Read explanation given below

H1961 – היה – is sometimes translated as I Was or He Was (Examples given below)
Hos 11:4  I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love: and I was to them as they that take off the yoke on their jaws, and I laid meat unto them.
Isa 63:8  For he said, Surely they are my people, children that will not lie: so he was their Saviour.

H1961 – היה – is sometimes translated as I Am or He is (Examples given below)
Jer 31:9  They shall come with weeping, and with supplications will I lead them: I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters in a straight way, wherein they shall not stumble: for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn.
Isa 55:6  Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:

H1961 – היה – is sometimes translated as I Will be or He Will be (Examples given below)
Hos 14:5  I will be as the dew unto Israel: he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon.
Isa 8:14  And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

This shows that the statement made by God in Exo 3:14 היה(hâyâh) אשׁר(‘ăsher) היה(hâyâh) could mean “I was” that “I was”, “I am” that “I am”, “I will be” that “I will be” all at the same time. He was saying that He is the Eternal One. And that His Name “YHVH” encapsulated this character of being the beginning and the end.


3. Does God really have a name? and is it really YHVH?

There is no doubt that His Name is YHVH, as the Scriptures witness to this over and over again – A few examples are given below
Hos 12:5  the YHVH, the God of hosts, YHVH is his memorial name
Isa 42:8  I am YHVH; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.
Jer 16:21  “Therefore, behold, I will make them know, this once I will make them know my power and my might, and they shall know that my name is YHVH.”
Eze 39:7  “And my holy name I will make known in the midst of my people Israel, and I will not let my holy name be profaned anymore. And the nations shall know that I am YHVH, the Holy One in Israel.
Zec 13:9  They will call upon my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘They are my people’; and they will say, ‘YHVH is my God.’
Psa 135:13 Your name, O YHVH, endures forever, your renown, O YHVH, throughout all ages.
Psa 9:10  And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O YHVH, have not forsaken those who seek you.
Micah 4:5 For all the peoples walk each in the name of its god, but we will walk in the name of the YHVH our God forever and ever.


4. Pronouncing the name YHVH

Among those who understand the importance of His name, there are many theories on how to pronounce the name of our Almighty God, of which Yahweh, Yehovah, Yahuwah, Jehovah are some of the more famous ones.

With this being said, there is a need to explain why there are so many different opinions about this name amongst believers. Vowels were not used in ancient Hebrew, which the Scriptures were written in, and as such, when scribes at that time wrote God’s name on scrolls, they wrote the four Hebrew Letters,  Yodh – Hey – Vav – Hey (“יהוה“). At that time, as everyone knew how to pronounce God’s Holy name, this was not an issue. But somewhere down the line, after the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in 70AD, pronouncing the name of God was banned. After this event, the pronunciation has been a well guarded secret handed down from Jewish Rabbi to disciple. Instead of addressing God by the name He wanted to be addressed by, the Jewish Rabbis started using titles such as Adonai (Lord), which was then passed down to the English Translators of the Old Testament (who learned Hebrew from these teachers). As a result, today, we do not know the pronunciation of the name nor have an English Translation that clearly communicates God’s name in print. This is the reason for so many, to have a hard time coming to terms with the idea of God Almighty, having a name.

When I first started to study into God’s Divine name, I believed that one of the prevalent pronunciations used by many Christians which were “Yahweh” or “Jehovah”, could be the correct pronunciation.

Jehovah actually appears in the KJV Bible in Exo 6:3, Psa 83:18, Isa 12:2 & Isa 26:4. “Jehovah” was a credible pronunciation other than the fact of the “J” sound, which is not part of the Hebrew Language. All of the Hebrew names we see in the New Testament which start with “J” actually start with a “Y” sound in the original form, which is Hebrew. (For Example, Judas – Yehudah / James – Yaakov / John – Yohanan / Jesus – Yeshua / Joseph – Yosef) So, if at all, the name should be pronounced “Yehovah” and not “Jehovah”. As I discovered, Yehovah became the most likely candidate, as it lined up with many facts that I found in my research.


5. The facts behind my belief of “YHVH” being pronounced as Yehovah

1.Composition of Hebrew Names
Compound names(Hebrew names that were made of two words) in the Old Testament which included YHVH as one of the words, always started with the pronunciation “Yeho” or ended with the pronunciation “Yahu”. The “Yeho”/”Yahu” part of those names stood as a short in form for God’s name. (I have provided a few names as examples below)

Yehoshua – Yeshayahu – YHVH Saves (Joshua – Exo 17:9 / Isaiah – 2Kin 19:2)
Yehochanan – Chananyahu – YHVH Favours (Johanan – 2Kin 25:23 / Hananiah – 1Chr 3:19)
Yehonatan – Netanyahu – YHVH Gives (Jonathan – Judg 18:30 / Nethaniah – 2Kin 25:23)
Yehozabad – Zabadyahu – YHVH Endures (Jehozabad – 2Kin 12:21/ Zebediah – 1Chr 8:15)

Hebrew names that praise or reveal a characteristic of YHVH always start with “Yeho”. This is a valid clue that the first part of “YHVH” would be pronounced “Yeho”. Hence the pronunciation “Yeho”vah.

2. The Leningrad Codex and the Aleppo Codex
After God’s name was banned from being pronounced around 140AD, the Scribes who copied the Old Testament left out vowels in the name, so that no one would mistakenly read it out. The 2 most oldest, most reliable and most complete Hebrew Manuscripts of the Old Testament to date, which are named “The Leningrad Codex” & “The Aleppo Codex” both contain God’s name with the full vowel set dozens of times, which helps us read YHVH as Yehovah. (The list of these instances is recorded in the book His Hallowed Name Revealed Again by Keith Johnson
alongside links where you can download the photographs of the original and check it for yourself, which I have done! Thank you Keith!)

3. Biblical Hebrew vowel systems
As I am not an expert in Biblical Hebrew, I present a paper done by Nehemia Gordon, who holds a Masters Degree in Biblical Studies and a Bachelors Degree in Archaeology from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and has worked as a translator on the Dead Sea Scrolls and as a researcher deciphering ancient Hebrew manuscripts. This paper delves into the vowel systems of God’s name and concludes that the pronunciation should be Yehovah. You can read the paper here. Thank you Nehemia for sharing your knowledge with us!

4. The use of Iehovah in the KJV Bible printed in 1611
The KJV Bible, first published in 1611 carried God’s Name YHVH as Iehovah in 4 places, namely Exo 6:3, Psa 83:18, Isa 12:2 & Isa 26:4 (use the links to examine it for yourself). The KJV translators of 1611, would have wanted to transmit the correct name with pronunciation in the 4 places they allowed the name to be printed, as is. The KJV “Iehovah” & “Yehovah” are both identical in pronunciation. This is another clear reason, that the pronunciation “Yehovah” could be correct. As mentioned above, even the later versions of the KJV Bible use an anglicized version of “Yehovah”, which is “Jehovah”, even though the “J” sound clearly is an English invention.

5. The use of Iehouah in the Pentateuch(5 Books of Moses) printed in 1530 & in the “Great Bible”, which was the 1st complete English version of the 66 Books printed in 1540
One of the earliest versions of an English Translation of the Bible was done by William Tyndale in the year 1530. This translation which dates about 80 years before the 1611 King James Version records God’s Name as “Iehouah” in Exo 6:3 (use the link to examine it for yourself) which is identical to “Yehovah” in Pronounciation. The same can be said of the “Great Bible” printed in 1540. Just as in Tyndale’s Translation, the “Great Bible” also recorded God’s Name as “Iehouah” in Exo 6:3 (use the link to examine it for yourself).

6. Conclusion
Our Father in Heaven, has a name that he made known through Scripture which is “יהוה“ or “YHVH”. This name, like all other names in Scripture, has a meaning that shows the Character of God Almighty. The famous statement in Exo 3:14 which is translated as “I AM THAT I AM”, actually means “I was that I was, I am that I am, I will be that I will be” all at the same time. This shows God’s character of being the beginning and the end, and that He is Eternal, and is outside of the limitations of time. The name which He reveals to Moses in Exo 3:15, is none other than “יהוה“ or “YHVH” which is also known as the tetragrammaton. Among those who understand the importance of His name, there are many theories on how to pronounce the name of our Almighty God, of which Yahweh, Yehovah, Yahuwah, Jehovah are some of the more famous ones. With the information and evidence at hand, we can conclude that the pronunciation of this name should be done as “Yehovah”. Whichever way we decide to pronounce God’s Eternal Name, we must remember, that it is far better for us to know that He HAS a name, rather than being ignorant of this important fact.  

Recommended reading
His Hallowed Name Revealed Again by Keith Johnson
Shattering the Conspiracy of Silence by Nehemia Gordon