CLAOTB: Even More Hebrew Terminology

Print Friendly

Considering Lingual Aspects of the Bible:
Even More Hebrew Terminology

 
For the first part of this section, recall the concept of lingual cognates that I talked about in the previous section More Hebrew Terminology.

In the previous section, even though it is difficult to see in the English, I discussed that the English terms “Adam” and “humanity”, through translation, work as lingual cognates because they translate the Hebrew term adam, which refers directly to one specific man, and refers generally to all humanity.

In the previous section, I also said that the English terms “husbandry” and “husbandman” are cognates of the English term: “husband”, because each term relates directly to the archaic definition of the term “husband”.

In the previous section, I also said that the English term “woman” is a cognate of the English term: “man”, because the term “woman” relates directly to the definition of the term “man”.

I also stated in the previous section, that the English term “husband” is not a cognate of the Hebrew term ish, because even though the modern English definition is strictly associated with “marriage”, in the archaic English the term “husband” is related to occupation not a definition of gender.

However, in the Hebrew, the Hebrew term ishshah is a cognate of the Hebrew term ish, making those Hebrew terms cognatively similar to the English terms: “woman” and “man”.

That is why the English term “husband” cannot lingually function as a quality translation of the Hebrew term ish.

In other words, the English term “husband” relates to “man” but the English term “husband” is not a cognate of the English term “man”.

As for the English term “wife”, even though the English term “wife” was once synonymous with the English term “woman”, the English term “wife” is no longer interpreted as being synonymous with the English term “woman”.

That is because, like the English term “husband”, the English term “wife” took on an additional definition that eventually supplanted the original definition, which made the original definition archaic, and which made the English term “wife” (and the English term “husband”) definitionally and functionally conjoined with the concept of “marriage”.

Therefore it becomes critical to realize that the modern definition of the English term “husband” is lingually separate from the concept of “man” and the modern definition of the English term “wife” is lingually separate from the concept of “woman”.

Therefore in modernity, the English term “husband” and the English term “wife” function in a substantially different way than the manner in which those English terms were defined in the early days (1300s – 1500s) of the English Bible, a time period that we now define as archaic, and no longer commonly use any English Bible translation from that time period.

Consider the lingual importance of Genesis 2.23:
She shall be called ishshah,
because she was taken out of ish.

The verse, quite literarily and lingually, shows how the Hebrew term ishshah is a cognate of the Hebrew term ish.

Therefore the English properly translates Genesis 2.23 as:
She shall be called “woman”,
because she was taken out of “man”.

In doing that, the English retains the lingual cognate and retains the literary nature of showing ishshah‘s relationship to her ish.

Even though most English Bible translations frequently use both English terms “wife” and “woman” to translate the Hebrew term ishshah, and frequently use both English terms “husband” and “man” to translate the Hebrew term ish, doing so, according to lingual cognates, is improper literarily.

If translating the Hebrew term ishshah into both English terms “wife” and “woman”, and if translating the Hebrew term ish into both English terms “husband” and “man” is actually correct, then the following would be a proper translation of Genesis 2.23:
She shall be called “wife”,
because she was taken out of “husband”.

But that is not a proper translation of the Hebrew, and I doubt any translator would suggest that such would be a proper translation.

Yet, I have to express the problem in that manner in order for it to be understood that the English is improperly rendering the Hebrew terms ishshah and ish.

Therefore:

since the Hebrew term ishshah is a cognate from the Hebrew term ish

and
since the English term “woman” is a cognate from the English term “man”

and
since the English term “husband” is not a cognate of the English term “man”

and
since the English term “wife” is not a cognate of the English term “woman”

then
it is lingually and literarily proper:
to consistently translate the Hebrew term ish into the English term “man”,

and
to consistently translate the Hebrew term ishshah into the English term “woman”.

While that challenges the ecclesiastical context and traditional Bible translation context, that conclusion remains true to the lingual and literary context of the Hebrew and remains true to the nature of lingual cognates, which for understanding the actual Hebrew take priority.

That is the proper conclusion.

 
With that in mind, I want to continue my examination of what the English Bible translations are doing when they inconsistently translate the Hebrew term ish and the Hebrew term ishshah.

As I did in the section Hebrew Terminology, I am going to provide verse references, giving examples of what I am discussing.

In the following groups, I have provided additional examples of the Hebrew terms ishshah and ish. I will replace the English term with the transliteration of the Hebrew term, by providing the root Hebrew term and therefore not show any variations based on grammatical variants (e.g. prefix, suffix).

The groups are not exhaustive to represent the entire range of the Old Testament (Tanakh), but the examples are sufficient to establish my point that the Hebrew linguistics are consistent whereas the English alternates terminology.

When one examines the verses in the following lists with the KJV, one will find the English terms. Even though this is based on the KJV, I encourage my reader to have their English Bible for comparison.

In the following verses, the KJV translates the Hebrew term ishshah (H802) with the English term “wife”:
    – “…Noah’s ishshah…” (Gen. 7.13);
    – “…Sarai, Abram’s ishshah…” (Gen. 16.1);
    – “…Abraham,… your ishshah…[call her] Sarah…” (Gen. 17.15);
    – “…Abraham took a[n] ishshah… [named] Keturah.” (Gen. 25.1);
    – “…Isaac… took Rebekah to ishshah…” (Gen. 25.20);
    – “…Jacob said… Give me my ishshah” (Gen. 29.21);
    – “…Zipporah, Moses’ ishshah…” (Exo. 18.2);
    – “…thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s ishshah…” (Exo. 20.17b);
    – “Neither shalt thou desire thy neighbor’s ishshah…” (Deut. 5.21 ).

However, in the following verses, the KJV translates the Hebrew term ishshah (H802) with the English term “woman”:
    – “…if the ishshah will not…” (Gen. 24.8);
    – “…be the ishshah… for… [Isaac]” (Gen. 24.44);
    – “…the ishshah took the child…” (Exo. 2.9);
    – “…if a[n] ishshah have conceived…” (Lev. 12.2);
    – “…cause the ishshah to drink…” (Num. 5.24);
    – “…this ishshah…not a maid” (Deut. 22.14).

As my reader can see, the Hebrew term ishshah is not consistently translated with one English term.

When the reader goes to the first group and uses the English term “woman” and goes to the second group and uses the English term “wife” my reader can see how the different English terms affect our understanding of any given verse.

 
Consider that Genesis 12.11 KJV contains two occurrences of the Hebrew term ishshah (H802): “…Sarah his ishshah… [was] a fair ishshah to look upon…”.

In that verse, the KJV translated the first occurrence into the English term “wife” and translated the second occurrence into the English term “woman”.

Upon reading that verse, most English readers would assume that there were two different Hebrew terms.

In the Hebrew there is one term. Yet, in the English there are two different English terms, conveying something that is not completely consistent with the Hebrew.

Similar can be seen in Deuteronomy 21.11 KJV, where it contains two occurrences of the Hebrew term ishshah (H802): “…seest… a beautiful ishshah… and [desire]… her to thy ishshah…”.

In that verse, the KJV translates the first occurrence with the English term “woman” and the second occurrence with English term “wife”.

As my reader can see, the translator’s choice of the English term affects the way in which the English reader reads and understands the verse.

In either of those two verses, simply read each instance of the Hebrew term ishshah as the English term “wife”, or read each instance of the Hebrew term ishshah as the English term “woman”, and my reader will see how much of a difference the choice of an English term makes.

For example, what would happen if Deuteronomy 21.11 KJV was translated as “And see among the captives a beautiful wife, and have a desire for her, that you would have her as your wife“?

According to the modern definition of the English term “wife” that translation would convey a much different concept.

 
Now, for some additional examples of how the Hebrew term ish is translated by the English.

In the following verses, the KJV translates the Hebrew term ish (H376) into the English term “husband”:
    – “…Leah… said… my ish…” (Gen. 29.32);
    – “…which hath had no ish…” (Lev. 21.3);
    – “…if she had at all a[n] ish…” (Num. 30.6);
    – “…toward the ish of her bosom…” (Deut. 28.56).

However, in the following verses, the KJV translates the Hebrew term ish (H376) into the English term “man”:
    – “…neither had any ish known her…” (Gen. 24.16);
    – “…the ish… worshipped the LORD.” (Gen. 24.26);
    – “…Abraham… died… an old ish…” (Gen. 25.8);
    – “…a cunning hunter, a[n] ish of the field…” (Gen. 25.27);
    – “…Moses was content to dwell with the ish…” (Exo. 2.21);
    – “…if any ish…” (Lev. 1.2 KJV);
    – “…every ish by his own camp…” (Num. 1.52);
    – “…after the cubit of a[n] ish.” (Deut. 3.11 KJV).

As my reader can see, the Hebrew term ish is not consistently translated with one English term.

When the reader goes to the first group and uses the English term “man” and goes to the second group and uses the English term “husband” my reader can see how the different English terms affect our understanding of any given verse.

 
Consider that Deuteronomy 22.23 KJV, contains two occurrences of the Hebrew term ish (H376): “If a damsel… be betrothed unto an ish, and a[n] ish… lie with her”

In that verse, the KJV translates the first occurrence with the English term “husband” and the second occurrence with English term “man”.

Upon reading that verse, most English readers would assume that there were two different Hebrew terms.

In the Hebrew there is one term. Yet, in the English there are two different English terms, conveying something that is not completely consistent with the Hebrew.

Similar can be seen in Numbers 5.13 KJV, where it contains two occurrences of the Hebrew term ish (H376): “…a[n] ish lie with her carnally, and it be hid from… her ish…”.

In that verse, the KJV translates the first occurrence with the English term “man” and the second occurrence with English term “husband”.

As my reader can see, the translator’s choice of the English term affects the way in which the English reader reads and understands the verse.

In either of those two verses, simply read each instance of the Hebrew term ish as the English term “husband”, or read each instance of the Hebrew term ish as the English term “man”, and my reader will see how much of a difference the choice of an English term makes.

For example, what would happen if Numbers 5.13 KJV was translated as “And a husband lie with her carnally, and it be hid from the eyes of her husband…”?

According to the modern definition of the English term “husband” that translation would convey a much different concept.

 
Consider that Deuteronomy 25.11 KJV contains an occurrence of the Hebrew term ishshah (H802) and an occurrence of the Hebrew term ish (H376): “…When men [fight] together… and the ishshah… to deliver her ish…”.

In that verse, the KJV translates the occurrence of the Hebrew term ishshah with the English term “wife”, and the KJV translates the occurrence of the Hebrew term ish with the English term “husband”.

Translate the Hebrew term ishshah into the English term “woman” and the Hebrew term ish into the English term “man”, and the verse begins to take on a relational dynamic that most English readers would consider a non-“marriage”, but most English readers would still consider a personal relationship.

 
Consider that Leviticus 21.7 KJV, contains two occurrences of the Hebrew term ishshah(H802) and one occurrence of the Hebrew term ish (H376): “not take a[n] ishshah… [or] ishshah put away from her ish…”.

In that verse, the KJV translates the first occurrence of the Hebrew term ishshah with the English term “wife”, and the second occurrence of the Hebrew term ishshah with the English term “woman”, and translates the one occurrence of the Hebrew term ish with the English term “husband”.

Translate the first occurrence of the Hebrew term ishshah into the English term “woman” and the verse begins to convey a different relational dynamic.

Translate the second occurrence of the Hebrew term ishshah into the English term “wife” and the verse changes tone and what it appears to convey in the English.

Translate the one occurrence of the Hebrew term ish into the English term “man” and the verse again changes tone and conveys a different relational dynamic.

 
Those examples seem sufficient to establish what I believe the English Bible translation should represent. But there is more to discuss and examine, because one might think that the Greek of the New Testament would provide some clarity, but as I will show in the coming sections, the Greek does not get any more specific than the Hebrew.

Share