Hebrew and You with Lee M. Fields – Hebrew Poetry and Isaiah
According to Duvall and Hayes in Grasping God’s Word , more than one-third of the Old Testament is written in the form of poetry. (373) Modern English versions usually mark off poetry by punctuation, namely, by arranging into poetic lines rather than a continuous running text. This helps us identify poetic sections, but there is still more to understanding Hebrew poetry.
Hebrew and English poetry often use the same devises, e.g., rhyming, figures of speech, forms of parallelism, rare words or forms. But the may use them to different degrees or ways. Of course, it is oftentimes impossible to translate poetic features. Knowing some Hebrew can help us appreciate what authors…
Hebrew and You with Lee M. Fields – Understanding English Ps 37: Part 2
This post concludes a post begun last month on the verbs from the root חרה. Of interest is Ps 37 where it is translated three times with fret. Since the English word is not used much, it forms an interesting object of study.
Hebrew and You with Lee M. Fields – Understanding English Ps 37: Part 1
Fret is not a word people use very often, but in Ps 37 it appears three times: vv. 1, 7, 8. Most major versions use the word fret in Ps 37 (NIV, NASB, ESV, NRSV, KJV). Miriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th edition, lists six different entries for fret. The one we are interested in is defined as “devour, eat, rub, chafe,” and then metaphorically “to cause to suffer emotional strain,” or “to become vexed or worried.”
These notions of the meaning of fret all fit the context of Ps 37:1 and 7, but v. 8 seems a little less appropriate. Verse 8 reads (NIV):
8 Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil.
Hebrew and You with Lee M. Fields – Can a Person Change or Not? Jer 13:23
A friend of mine read Jer 13:23 in the NIV and in the Amplified Bible and wondered about the apparent contradiction. This gives an opportunity to dig into a conjunction. The chart below gives the Hebrew, letters for each line in the verse, and three versions for comparison.
Hebrew and You with Lee M. Fields – The Timing of the Lord’s Return to Jerusalem in Zech 1:16
Zechariah and Haggai were prophesying when the Jews had returned from Babylonian exile and were supposed to be rebuilding the temple. However, they had encountered opposition and had become so discouraged that work had stopped. The Lord sends these prophets to encourage the people to resume and complete the work. This opening vision begins a series that continues through ch. 6. It serves in part to affirm to the Jews that the Lord is with them in spite of the difficulties they are encountering.
Time in the Translations
English translations show an interesting different translation of Zechariah 1:16. Please note the chart…
Hebrew and You with Lee M. Fields – Swirling Tenses in Ps 2:1–3
The Forms and Translation
The NIV, as do all the most common versions, render all the verbs of Ps 2:1–3 with the English simple present. This English tense refers to action that is portrayed generally or is repeatedly true. It does not usually portray action as currently in progress, for which English uses the progressive present tense: “are conspiring,” etc.
The Hebrew, however, shows variation. The four verbs and their tense-aspects are:
If this were a narrative text instead of poetry, one…
Hebrew and You with Lee M. Fields — The Tree of the Knowing Good and Evil (Gen 2:9)
This well-known verse describes the situation in the Garden of Eden before the fall. There is great theological import in all of these chapters on creation, but what concerns us here is an interesting point of grammar, the last clause, וְעֵץ הַדַּעַת טֹוב וָרָע (weʿēṣ haddaʿaṯ ṭôḇ wārāʿ)
What is the Problem?
The usual analysis of the grammar is that הַדַּעַת is a noun with the article in the construct with the next noun meaning “the knowledge of.” The difficulty with this is that if the article is used to mark the determination (or “definiteness”) in a construct chain, only the…
Hebrew and You with Lee M. Fields — When Does What Happen? Verb Shifts in Ps 24:2–6
There is debate about the nature of Hebrew verbs. Are they primarily tenses, moods, or aspects? I follow the view that aspect is not the most prominent notion, but rather that time and mood are dominant (see recommended works at the end of the post).
The significance of seeing aspect as not the most prominent is reflected my choices for the names of the Hebrew tenses. The Perfect (completed action), and Imperfect (incompleted action), are really misnamed with respect to their essential import. Better is to use the form names, Qatal and Yiqtol.
To understand the Hebrew verb routine texts ought to be taken as normative. Routine is best seen in Hebrew prose. Poetry, almost by definition, uses deviations from the norm. Still,…
Hebrew and You with Lee M. Fields — Standing with the Lord (Ps 24:4)
Psalm 24 is a hymn to the Lord that praises him as owner of all creation because he is the creator and sustainer (vv. 1–2). The next stanza describes the person who has fellowship with the Lord (vv. 3–6). The final stanza is a praise to the Lord (vv. 7–10).
The middle stanza begins with the question of who can stand in the presence of this awesome creator Lord. Read more
Hebrew and You with Lee M. Fields — Build or Help Build (Zechariah 6:15)?
Two of the things to look for in interpreting the biblical text is the roles of God and of people (see Grasping God’s Word, chs. 3–5 for a list and discussion of 23 things to look for, including these two). One of the important features in Zechariah is the role of the Gentiles in the plan of God.
The Construction of the Second Temple
This was a time when the Gentiles were not allowed to participate in the rebuilding of the Temple. At that time, Gentiles, who had been exiled into Judea by the Assyrians, approached Zerubbabel asking to help build the Temple, because “like you, we seek your God and have…
Hebrew and You with Lee M. Fields — Whose Son is Zechariah?
The name Zechariah was a common name in the period of the Old Testament, belonging to 30 or more men in the OT (see “Zechariah” in the Zondervan Encyclopedia of the Bible, 5:1208–10). The writing prophet Zechariah is identified in Zech 1:1 as “Zechariah son of Berekiah, son of Iddo” (NIV). In Ezra 5:1 and Neh 12:16, a certain Zechariah is identified as a priest and as the “son of Iddo.” This may be troubling for English readers. Is Iddo the father or the grandfather of the prophet Zechariah? Or are these two different men named Zechariah, one a prophet and one a priest, living at the same time?
If they are the same, then why is Berekiah omitted from the…
Hebrew and You with Lee M. Fields — Do Not Kill or Do Not Murder (Exod 20:13; Deut 5:17)?
Murder, defined as unlawful and premeditated killing of another person, is commonly deemed to be wrong. There are some, however, who believe all killing is unlawful and therefore wrong, and some Bible-believing people base this on the KJV translation of Exod 20:13, “Thou shalt not kill.” This creates a tension within the OT, however, since the Israelites are commanded to kill, whether it be enemy nations or perpetrators of certain crimes. Other Modern translations render the command, “You shall not murder” (NIV, NASB, ESV, NRSV, etc.). This alleviates the tension, but might it lead to other confusion instead?
The commandment in Exod 20:13 is only two Hebrew words: לֹא תִּרְצָח (lōʾ tirṣāḥ). The negative particle לֹא is the general negative making the prohibition permanent (see the March 2015 column, No “Yes,” But Two Nos: Zechariah 1:4). The question…