Having a Holy Bible in a language that you can read is wonderful, provided that you have a good translation of the Holy Text. But I desire each person in the body of Christ to go beyond that, looking into the actual words used in the Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek.
“But, I cannot read Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek,” you might say. Relax. The work has been done for us. Holy Bible computer programs have been developed that sometimes have incorporated the work of James Strong, creator of Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance where, with usually just a click of the mouse, you can discover the actual words used. God willing, I will elaborate more on this and similar tools in an upcoming article. For now, I wish to whet your appetite to research the ancient words actually used that comprise any Biblical text you might read.
I want each disciple to do this because most of the languages today apparently are not as expressive as the languages God chose to bring us the Holy Bible. Knowing what the text actually says will enhance our spiritual growth and cause us to be more knowledgeable when a friend thinks the Holy Bible is contradicting itself or perhaps is confusing.
In fact, aside from not considering context, not knowing what the ancient language actually says is the chief reason for alleged contradictions. For example, someone reading the King James might say Galatians 6:5 contradicts Galatians 6:2 in regard to burdens. However, we find a different Greek word is used for burden in verse 2 than in verse 5.
Since the true Christian knows the Holy Bible does not contradict Itself, let me now give some examples of the richness of some words in the ancient languages the Holy Bible is written in. Below, I will give some images I have produced with God’s help followed by printing out what they contain. There are some with vision impairment who rely on aural programs to know what any image on the Internet is about (provided that the information about the image has been given by an author).
Old Testament Gems
Image of the word “naw-bat”" created and copyrighted by author. You may use with attribution.
When working on the message, Three Calls To Victory based on Isaiah 51:1-3, I checked the meaning for the word “look” in Isaiah 51:2 and discovered it was the same word used in Genesis 19:7. I also discovered that the Holy Spirit could have used any of nineteen Hebrew words that could be translated as “look” and selected “naw-bat’” for Isaiah’s prophecy in this passage.
The above image reads as follows:
Look–nabat naw-bat’ Wilson p258(1):
to look, with attention and observation, with pleasure, with hope and expectation, with favor, respect and regard, with concern, with fear, with consideration and compassion, with indignation. Lot’s wife looked back on Sodom with a look of affection to the place, of regret to leave it, and of unbelief and distrust of its threatened destruction. The same word is used of the prohibition to Lot in Gen. 19:17. Wilson’s OT Word Studies p258. Pronunciation from Strong’s.
By the way, many times when there are multiple words to choose from in the ancient languages, usually the more choices there are adds to the weight of the word-gem that the Holy Spirit selected for a given passage.
A few months later, God led me back to Isaiah for another sermon (The Snare: An Apocalyptic Warning). My attention was drawn to Isaiah 24:17-18–”Fear, and the pit, and the snare, are upon thee, O inhabitant of the earth.18 And it shall come to pass, that he who fleeth from the noise of the fear shall fall into the pit; and he that cometh up out of the midst of the pit shall be taken in the snare: for the windows from on high are open, and the foundations of the earth do shake.”
Ominous as that is, it is even more ominous when we find out the original hearers of Isaiah’s voice and the early readers of the Hebrew text realized the Holy Spirit had caused Isaiah to use alliteration: “pachad” for “fear,” “pachath” for “pit,” and “pach” for “snare.” Additionally, the meaning of “pach,” chosen by the Holy Spirit out of ten possible words, is(2) “A plate; a net, snare, trap-net;…especially of a fowler; also such a one as seizes and holds beasts or men by foot.” Consider its meaning as a device of a fowler and then read Revelation 18:2, “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.”
New Testament Treasures
Now let us peek at the Greek, our first stop being Jude 3: “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.”
“That ye should earnestly contend” is all one word in the Greek, and the image below shows what that word is.
Image created and copyrighted by author. You may use with attribution.
As you see, the Greek word is(3) epagonizomai, and transliterating the central part of the word just about spells the English word, “agonize,” alpha corresponding to “a,” gamma to “g,” omega to “o,” nu to “n,” iota to i, zeta closely to “z.” So, to “earnestly contend” means to “give it all you have,” loving the Lord God with all your strength, even if it means having your soul and body in agony. To help us imagine that, think of those who have been tortured and even murdered for their faith in Christ Jesus.
Let us consider one more from the Greek. Here is James 1:12–”Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.”
The word “tried” in that verse is “dokimos.” Strong(3) states: δοκιμος dokimos dok’-ee-mos,
1) accepted, particularly of coins and money.
2) accepted, pleasing, acceptable
Strong then quotes Donald Barnhouse as saying, “In the ancient world there was no banking system as we know it today, and no paper money. All money was made from metal, heated until liquid, poured into moulds and allowed to cool. When the coins were cooled, it was necessary to smooth off the uneven edges. The coins were comparatively soft and of course many people shaved them closely. In one century, more than eighty laws were passed in Athens, to stop the practice of shaving down the coins then in circulation. But some money changers were men of integrity, who would accept no counterfeit money. They were men of honour who put only genuine full weighted money into circulation. Such men were called ‘dokimos’ or ‘approved’.”
Now you really know what the word “tried” means in that verse if you are reading the King James Bible. Other translations might use “approved.” While that comes close, having access to an electronic version of Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance gives you more insight.
Look For Tools
I trust this has given you a desire to look into the actual words used in the ancient text of the Holy Bible. God willing, in an upcoming article I will tell you about the tools that God directs me in using when preparing sermons and teachings. When published, I will post a link to the article in the comment section below.
(1) Wilson, William: Wilson’s Old Testament Word Studies (MacDonald Publishing Company, McLean VA)
(2) Wilson pp402-3
(3) An electronic version of Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance (James Strong) that came with the Online Bible program, downloadable in North America at http://onlinebible.net/ and outside of North America at http://www.onlinebible.com/.