For those who know the Hebrew

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Wild Eagle | Forum Activity | Posted: Fri, Sep 20 2013 9:32 AM

When I read Exodus 20:11 in NKJV "For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth.."

ESV: "For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth.."

Is "haven" supposed to be plural or single? When I hover my mouse it says plural. Why would translators place it as single? Are some manuscripts are different? 

Disclaimer: I need technical (not theological) response. I am deciding which translation better fits for me. Please respect the forum guidelines.... 

"No man is greater than his prayer life. The pastor who is not praying is playing; the people who are not praying are straying." Leonard Ravenhill 

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Kendall Sholtess | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Sep 20 2013 9:46 AM

The Hebrew word is haShamayim, technically plural. However, the translators were experts in Hebrew far beyond what you or I would get to be by knowing this supposed fact. 

Translation is a very complicated endeavor which IMHO should be left to people like Michael Heiser and others who are qualified. Their job is to struggle through the literature and make highly educated judgements on how to translate a plural. There may be many different kinds of plurals, for example. 

Chances are, if you are holding a major committee translation, the chances of it being relatively accurate are very high. 

Perhaps one of our local experts could lay out the possible (known) options for us. But how could we judge? 

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Rich DeRuiter | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Sep 20 2013 10:36 AM

Wild Eagle:

When I read Exodus 20:11 in NKJV "For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth.."

ESV: "For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth.."

Is "haven" supposed to be plural or single? When I hover my mouse it says plural. Why would translators place it as single? Are some manuscripts are different? 

Disclaimer: I need technical (not theological) response. I am deciding which translation better fits for me. Please respect the forum guidelines.... 

As was said above the plural in Hebrew can honestly be rendered as a singular in English with no real change of meaning. Well, there could be, but that would be a completely different discussion (Hebrew cosmology as descriptive or prescriptive: does the earth have four corners, e.g.). The Hebrew word for "water" is also always plural (well, dual, but that's sort of the same). In this case as well, it is entirely appropriate to translate that plural as a singular. Once again there is no theological or linguistic difference at stake here.

There are paraphrases that use "heavens" and more literal translations that use "heaven" here. So I don't think this particular verse is going to be helpful for selecting a translation that best suits you. But if you want a good literal Bible for study purposes, I highly recommend the LEB.

 Help links: WIKI;  Logos 6 FAQ. (Phil. 2:14, NIV)

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Lee | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Sep 20 2013 10:45 AM

Yes Yes Yes

Thanks for that concise answer. Couldn't have said it better myself.

Posts 1494
Wild Eagle | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Sep 20 2013 10:50 AM

Richard DeRuiter:

As was said above the plural in Hebrew can honestly be rendered as a singular in English with no real change of meaning. Well, there could be, but that would be a completely different discussion (Hebrew cosmology as descriptive or prescriptive: does the earth have four corners, e.g.). The Hebrew word for "water" is also always plural (well, dual, but that's sort of the same). In this case as well, it is entirely appropriate to translate that plural as a singular. Once again there is no theological or linguistic difference at stake here.

There are paraphrases that use "heavens" and more literal translations that use "heaven" here. So I don't think this particular verse is going to be helpful for selecting a translation that best suits you. But if you want a good literal Bible for study purposes, I highly recommend the LEB.

Thank you Kendall and Richard for the respond! Is there a singular word in Hebrew for "heaven". I would like to scan that word through OT (if there is), for me its important the literal meaning of this text as much closer as possible, because it would effect my theology concerning the creation... Sadly Word Biblical commentary does not deal with this word... 

"No man is greater than his prayer life. The pastor who is not praying is playing; the people who are not praying are straying." Leonard Ravenhill 

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Doug Mangum | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Sep 20 2013 11:07 AM

There is no singular form of shamayim. The plural/dual is its normal form like the word for water that Richard mentioned above (mayim). As far as I know there is no other word for "heaven" that might have a singular form. This is a very common noun which is probably why the WBC commentator passed over it. The phrase "heaven and earth" is also a common way of indicating the totality of creation (technical term for this feature is merism). In my opinion, whether the translators picked heaven or heavens is not necessarily a good litmus test for the quality of the translation. ESV and NKJV are both pretty good. I think translating "heavens" is more literal but there is no difference in meaning. Our Lexham English Bible uses "heavens" at Exod 20:11. The only reason I might avoid the singular "heaven" as a translator is to differentiate between "heaven" as God's abode and "heavens" as sky/space/universe.

Posts 1494
Wild Eagle | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Sep 20 2013 11:09 AM

Thank you Doug so much, that settles my questions YesYesYes

"No man is greater than his prayer life. The pastor who is not praying is playing; the people who are not praying are straying." Leonard Ravenhill 

Posts 241
Kendall Sholtess | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Sep 20 2013 4:37 PM

And now, my friend, you have your expert answer.

Kudos, Doug and Richard!

Clearly, how to translate this is a matter of opinion, and what the translator wants to convey, as is so often the case in this field.

Let me add that the main bone that scholars pick with the NKJV is in the New Testament. The underlying Greek text is the Textus Receptus, which is considered by most scholars to be more corrupt than the NA27/28, which has been rebuilt using the earliest manuscripts available.

I am not taking sides here, just reporting. There are (or were) Godly men who advocate both kinds of texts. David Alan Black, in his introduction to New Testament Textual criticism, advocates a more balanced approach than most on this issue.

However, your question was in the Old Testament, wasn't it?

 

Posts 2872
Mike Childs | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Sep 20 2013 5:56 PM

The excellent answers by Richard and Doug illustrate the importance of those who have the opportunity to study Hebrew and Greek (in seminary or an academic setting) take advantage of that opportunity.  It is not that one needs to translate every verse again, (though that is not a bad practice).  It is simply that a working knowledge of Greek and Hebrew will save one from a thousand dumb mistakes and terrible interpretations. 

Many nuts on the radio and TV will say, "The Greek text literally says...", and then go off in some stupid and heretical direction.  And the nut on the radio has never read a word of Greek, and doesn't even know the Greek alphabet.  You can save your people from a multitude of errors by learning basic Greek and Hebrew.

It grieves me that many seminaries are no longer requiring Biblical languages for their M.Div. programs.

Of course, everyone does not have the opportunity to study Greek or Hebrew in a class room.  If one does not, then it is crucial to use commentaries and tools by reliable scholars.  Greek and Hebrew are no harder to read than English.  However, Strong numbers and interlinears are not enough.  Translation from any language is not an exact science, (another great reason to study Hebrew and Greek).  You cannot translate from any language "literally word for word" and expect it to make sense or to be accurate.  Language just doesn't work that way.

Again, I really appreciate the answers here from Richard and Doug.

"In all cases, the Church is to be judged by the Scripture, not the Scripture by the Church," John Wesley

Posts 5127
David Paul | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Sep 20 2013 6:18 PM

Hmm

...

The word is dual, which is a specific kind of plural.

Gen. 1:14, 15, 17   "heavens/heaven" = shaamayim

Gen. 1:20, 26, 28, 30   "heavens/sky" = shaamayim

If you think that birds fly around where the stars are, and that stars really are close enough to reach out and touch, sure...it's all the same. Heaven is as good as heavens; who are we to quibble about facts and reality? It's all just one big, happy slush.

2 Cor. 12:2   Shhhh! Ignore the man behind the curtain!!! Resist the tyranny of facts! Super Angry

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Posts 1494
Wild Eagle | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Sep 20 2013 8:58 PM

Michael Childs:

The excellent answers by Richard and Doug illustrate the importance of those who have the opportunity to study Hebrew and Greek (in seminary or an academic setting) take advantage of that opportunity.  It is not that one needs to translate every verse again, (though that is not a bad practice).  It is simply that a working knowledge of Greek and Hebrew will save one from a thousand dumb mistakes and terrible interpretations. 

Many nuts on the radio and TV will say, "The Greek text literally says...", and then go off in some stupid and heretical direction.  And the nut on the radio has never read a word of Greek, and doesn't even know the Greek alphabet.  You can save your people from a multitude of errors by learning basic Greek and Hebrew.

It grieves me that many seminaries are no longer requiring Biblical languages for their M.Div. programs.

Of course, everyone does not have the opportunity to study Greek or Hebrew in a class room.  If one does not, then it is crucial to use commentaries and tools by reliable scholars.  Greek and Hebrew are no harder to read than English.  However, Strong numbers and interlinears are not enough.  Translation from any language is not an exact science, (another great reason to study Hebrew and Greek).  You cannot translate from any language "literally word for word" and expect it to make sense or to be accurate.  Language just doesn't work that way.

Again, I really appreciate the answers here from Richard and Doug.

You are right Michael. Seems like hebrew/Greek tools are not enough and can't replace the studying Hebrew/Greek terminology and its proper method . I am thinking in the future to pick video classes on Hebrew/Greek from Michael Heiser.  https://www.logos.com/product/5876/learn-to-use-biblical-greek-and-hebrew-with-logos-bible-software 

Kendall Sholtess:

However, your question was in the Old Testament, wasn't it?

yes it was. Thank you for giving your insight about Nkjv. 

"No man is greater than his prayer life. The pastor who is not praying is playing; the people who are not praying are straying." Leonard Ravenhill 

Posts 222
Justin Cofer | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Sep 20 2013 9:07 PM

Michael Childs:

The excellent answers by Richard and Doug illustrate the importance of those who have the opportunity to study Hebrew and Greek (in seminary or an academic setting) take advantage of that opportunity.  It is not that one needs to translate every verse again, (though that is not a bad practice).  It is simply that a working knowledge of Greek and Hebrew will save one from a thousand dumb mistakes and terrible interpretations. 

Many nuts on the radio and TV will say, "The Greek text literally says...", and then go off in some stupid and heretical direction.  And the nut on the radio has never read a word of Greek, and doesn't even know the Greek alphabet.  You can save your people from a multitude of errors by learning basic Greek and Hebrew.

It grieves me that many seminaries are no longer requiring Biblical languages for their M.Div. programs.

Of course, everyone does not have the opportunity to study Greek or Hebrew in a class room.  If one does not, then it is crucial to use commentaries and tools by reliable scholars.  Greek and Hebrew are no harder to read than English.  However, Strong numbers and interlinears are not enough.  Translation from any language is not an exact science, (another great reason to study Hebrew and Greek).  You cannot translate from any language "literally word for word" and expect it to make sense or to be accurate.  Language just doesn't work that way.

Again, I really appreciate the answers here from Richard and Doug.

I absolutely agree.

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