Page images

The old



צַרְיָא וְרִיקַנְיָא

A study and comparison of these ancient versions will show that they often differ very widely. In many instances it is easy to see, in the light of modern researches, that the sions often difold translators fell into grave errors, and were often at a loss to determine the meaning of rare and doubtful words. When the context, parallel passages, and several of the versions agree in giving the same signification to a word, that signification may generally be relied upon as the true one. But when the word is an átrað heyóuevov, and the passage has no parallel, and the versions vary, great caution is necessary lest we allow too much authority to one or more versions, which, after all, may have been only conjectural.

The following examples will illustrate the use, and the interest attaching to the study, of the ancient versions. In the Authorized English Version of Gen. i, 2, the words wat in are translated, without form and void. The Targum of Onkelos has Pyy, waste and empty; the Vulgate: inanis et vacua, empty and void ; Aquila: Kévwua kai oudév, emptiness and nothing. Thus, all these versions substantially agree, and the meaning of the Hebrew words is now allowed to be desolation and emptiness. The Syriac merely repeats the Hebrew words, but the Septuagint reads åópatoç kai åkaraokevaoros, invisible and unformed, and cannot be allowed to set aside the meaning presented in all the other versions.

In Gen. xlix, 6, the Septuagint gives the more correct translation of niej 17py, they houghed an ox, ÉVEVPokónnav taūpov; but the Chaldee, Syriac, Vulgate, Aquila, and Symmachus read, like the Authorized Version, they digged down a wall. Here, however, the authority of versions is outweighed by the fact that, in all other passages where the Piel of this word occurs, it means to hamstring or hough an animal. Compare Josh. xi, 6, 9; 2 Sam. viii, 4; 1 Chron. xviii, 4. Where the usus loquendi can thus be determined from the language itself, it has more weight than the testimony of many versions.

The versions also differ in the rendering of naxy in Psa. xvi, 4. This word elsewhere (Job ix, 28; Psa. cxlvii, 3; Prov. x, 10; xv, 13) always means sorrow; but the form 2xy means idols, and the Chaldee, Symmachus, and Theodotion so render naxy in Psa. xvi, 4: they multiply their idols, or many are their idols. But the Septuagint, Vulgate, Syriac, Arabic, Ethiopic, and Aquila, render the word sorrows, and this meaning is best sustained by the usage of the language.

In Cant. ii, 12, 7210 ny is rendered by the Septuagint kalpos tñs Touñs, time of the cutting; Symmachus, time of the pruning (kha

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Deúdewc); so also the Vulgate, tempus putationis. Most modern interpreters, however, discard these ancient versions here, and understand the words to mean, the time of song is come; not merely or particularly the singing of birds, as the English version, but all the glad songs of springtime, in which shepherds and husbandmen alike rejoice. In this interpretation they are governed by the consideration that app and nire signify song and songs in 2 Sam. xxiii, 1; Job xxxv, 10; Psa. xcv, 2; cxix, 54; Isa. xxiv, 16; xxv, 5, and that when “the blossoms have been seen in the land” the pruning time is altogether past.

In Isa. lii, 13 all the ancient versions except the Chaldee render the word Suging in the sense of acting wisely. This fact gives great weight to that interpretation of the word, and it ought not to be set aside by the testimony of one version, and by the opinion, which is open to question, that soap is in some passages equivalent to mobxn, to prosper.

From the above examples it may be seen what judgment and caution are necessary in the use of the ancient versions of the Bible. In fact, no specific rules can safely be laid down to govern us in the use of them. Sometimes the etymology of a word, or the context, or a parallel passage may have more weight than all the versions combined; while in other instances the reverse may be true. Where the versions are conflicting, the context and the analogy of the language must generally be allowed to take the precedence.

In ascertaining the meaning of many Greek words the ancient Glossaries and glossaries of Hesychius, Suidas, Photius, and others are

useful; but as they treat very few of the obscure words of the New Testament, they are of comparatively little value to the biblical interpreter. Scholia, or brief critical notes on portions of the New Testament, extracted chiefly from the writings of the Greek Fathers, such as Origen and Chrysostom, occasionally serve a good purpose, but they have been superseded by the more thorough and scholarly researches of modern times, and the results of this research are embodied in the leading critical commentaries and biblical lexicons of the present day. The Rabbinical commentaries of Aben-Ezra, Jarchi, Kimchi, and Tanchum are often found serviceable in the exposition of the Old Testament.


1 The commentaries of Theodoret and Theophylact are largely composed of extracts from Chrysostom. To the same class belong the commentaries of Euthymius, Zigabenus, Ecumenius, Andreas, and Arethas. The Catenae of the Greek Fathers by Procopius, Olympiodorus, and Nicephorus treat several books of the Old Testament. The celebrated Catena Aurea of Thomas Aquinas covers the Four Gospels, and was translated and published at Oxford in 1845 bv. J. H. Newman.



Some words

or pay

WORDS, being the conventional signs and representatives of ideas, are changeable in both form and meaning by reason of the changes constantly taking place in human society. In process of time the same word will be applied to a variety of uses, and come to have a variety of meanings. Thus, the name board, another form of the word broad, was originally applied to a piece have many of timber, hewed or sawed so as to form a wide, thin meanings. plank. It was also applied to a table on which food was placed, and it became common to speak of gathering around the festive board. Thence it came by a natural process to be applied to the food which was placed upon the table, and men were said to work

for their board. By a similar association the word was also applied to a body of men who were wont to gather around a table to transact business, and hence we have board of trustees, board of commissioners. The word is also used for the deck of a vessel; hence the terms on board, overboard, and some other less common nautical expressions. Thus it often happens, that the original meaning of a word falls into disuse, and is forgotten, while later meanings become current, and find a multitude and variety of applications. But while a single word may thus come to have many meanings, it also happens that a number of different words are used to designate the same, or nearly the same, thing. By such a multiplication of terms a language becomes greatly enriched, and capable of expressing more minutely the different shades and aspects of any particular idea. Thus in English we have the words wonder, surprise, admiration, astonishment, and amaze- of like meanment, all conveying the same general thought, but distin- ing. guishable by different shades of meaning. The same is true of the words axiom, maxim, aphorism, apothegm, adage, proverb, byword, saying, and sav. Such words are called synonymes, and they abound in all cultivated languages. The biblical interpreter needs discernment and skill to determine the nice distinctions and shades of meaning attaching to Hebrew and Greek synonymes. Often the exact point and pith of a passage will be missed by failing to make the proper

discrimination between synonymous expressions. There


Several words


Hebrew words


are, for instance, eleven different Hebrew words used in the old Testament for kindling a fire, or setting on fire,' and seven Greek words used in the New Testament for prayer;' and yet a careful study of these several terms will show that they all vary somewhat in signification, and serve to set forth so many different shades of thought or meaning. We take, for illustration, the different Hebrew words which are

used to convey the general idea of killing, or putting for putting to to death. The verb Sop occurs but three times in the

Hebrew Scriptures, and means in every case to kill by putting an end to one's existence. The three instances are the following: Job xiii, 15, “If he kill me,” or “Lo, let him kill me;" and Job xxiv, 14, “At light will the murderer rise up; he will kill the poor and needy;” and Psa. cxxxix, 19, “Thou wilt kill the wicked, Sop

O God.” The primary idea of the word, according to

Gesenius, is that of cutting; hence cutting off; making an end of by destruction. So the noun Sop is used in Obadiah 9 in connexion with m72, cut off-“shall be cut off by slaughter;" i. e., by a general destruction. In the Chaldee chapters of Daniel the verb Sop is used in a variety of forms seven times, but it seems to retain in every instance essentially the same meaning as the Hebrew verb. The simple fact of the killing or cutting off is stated without any necessary implication as to the method or occasion of the act. The word more commonly used to denote putting to death is (the

Hiphil, Hophal, and some of the rarer forms of) mio, to die. The grammatical structure of the language en

ables us at once to perceive that the primary idea in the use of this word is that of causing to die. Thus, in Josh. x, 26 and xi, 17, it is used to denote the result of violent smiting (797): “Joshua smote them and caused them to die ;” “ All their kings he took, and he smote them and caused them to die.” Compare 1 Sam. xvii, 50; xxii, 18; 2 Sam. xviii, 15; 2 Kings xv, 10, 14. In short, the distinguishing idea of this word, as used for killing, is that of putting to death, or causing to die, by some violent and deadly

In this sense the word is used in the Old Testament Scriptures over two hundred times. The prominent thought in Soup is merely that of cutting off'; getting one out of the way; while in noon and noun the idea of death, as the result of some fatal means and procedure, is more noticeable. The murderer or the assassin kills () his victim or enemy; the warrior, the ruler, and the Lord himself, causes to die, or puts to death (non) whom he will, and he



.שׂרף ,קטר ,קדח נשק ,להט ,יקד ,יצת ,חרה ,דלק (בער ,אור :Namely 1


8 Ευχή, προσευχή, δέησις, έντευξις, ευχαριστία, αίτημα, and ικετηρία.

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

,קֶטֶל and הֵמִית guished from

performs the act by some certain means (specified or unspecified), which will accomplish the desired result. The latter word is accordingly used of public executions, the slaughter involved in war, and the putting to death for the maintenance of some principle, or the attainment of some ulterior end. It is never used to express the idea of murder; but God himself says: “I put to death” (Deut. xxxii, 39). Compare i Sam. ii, 6; 2 Kings v, 7; Hosea ix, 16.

Another word for killing is 277. Unlike noon, it may be used for private homicide, or murder (Gen. iv, 8; xxvii, 41), or assassination (2 Chron. xxiv, 25; 2 Kings x, 9), or general slaughter and massacre (Judges viii, 17; Esther ix, 15). The slaying it denotes may be done by the sword (1 Kings ii, 32), or by a stone (Judges ix, 54), or a spear (2 Sam. xxiii, 21), or by the word of Jehovah (Hos. vi, 5), or even by grief, or a viper's tongue (Job v, 2; xx, 16). But the characterizing idea of the word, as distin

seems to be that of wholesale or vengeful slaughter. Thus Jehovah slew all the firstborn of Egypt (Exod. xiii, 15), but the slaughter was a vengeful judgment-stroke, a plague. Thus Simeon and Levi slew the men of Shechem, and that slaughter was a cruel and vindictive massacre (Gen. xxxiv, 26; xlix, 6). This word is used of the slaughter of Jehovah's prophets by Jezebel, and of the prophets of Baal by Elijah (1 Kings xix, 1, 10), and in this sense generally, whether the numbers slain be few or many. Compare Judges viii, 17, 21; Esther ix, 6, 10, 12; Ezek. ix, 6. In Isa. xxii, 13 the word is used of the slaughter of oxen, but the context shows that the slaughter contemplated was on a large scale, at a time of feasting and revelry. So, again, in Psa. lxxviii, 47, we read: “He slays with hail their vines,” but the passage is poetical, and the thought is that of a sweeping destruction, by which vines and trees, as well as other things that suffered in the plagues of Egypt, were, so to speak, slaughtered.

myy has the primary signification of crushing, a violent breaking in pieces, and is generally used to denote the act of murder or manslaughter in any degree. This is the word used in the commandment, “Thou shalt not commit murder(Exod. xx, 13; Deut. v, 17); less properly translated, “Thou shalt not kill,for often to kill is not necessarily to murder. In Num. xxxv the participial form of the word is used over a dozen times to denote the manslayer, who flees to a city of refuge, and twice (verses 27, 30) the verb is used to denote the execution of such manslayer by the avenger of blood.

[ocr errors]


« PreviousContinue »