Preface to the First Edition and Revised Edition of Robert Young's Literal Translation of the Bible

Preface to the First Edition

THE WORK, in its present form, is not to be considered as intended to come into competition with the ordinary use of the commonly received English Version of the Holy Scriptures, but simply as a strictly literal and idiomatic rendering of the Original Hebrew and Greek Texts. For about twenty years—fully half his life-time—the Translator has had a desire to execute such a work, and has been engaged in Biblical pursuits tending to this end more or less exclusively; and now, at last, in the good providence of God, the desire has been accomplished. How far he has been able to carry out the just principles of Biblical Translation, founded on a solid and immovable foundation, time alone will tell, and for this he confidently waits. As these principles are to some extent new, and adhered to with a severity never hitherto attempted, and as the Translator has perfect confidence in their accuracy and simplicity, he proceeds at once to state them distinctly and broadly, that not merely the learned, but the wayfaring man need not err in appreciating their value.

There are two modes of translation which may be adopted in rendering into our own language the writings of an ancient author; the one is, to bring him before us in such a manner as that we may regard him as our own; the other, to transport ourselves, on the contrary, over to him, adopting his situation, modes of speaking, thinking, actingpeculiarities of age and race, air, gesture, voice, etc. Each of these plans has its advantages, but the latter is incomparably the better of the two, being suited—not for the ever-varying modes of thinking and acting of the men of the fifth, or the tenth, or the fifteenth, or some other century, but—for all ages alike. All attempts to make Moses or Paul act, or speak, or reason, as if they were Englishmen of the nineteenth century, must inevitably tend to change the translator into a paraphrast or a commentator, characters which, however useful, stand altogether apart from that of him, who, with a work before him in one language, seeks only to transfer it into another.

In prosecuting the plan thus adopted, a literal translation was indispensable. No other kind of rendering could place the reader in the position contemplated, side by side with the writer—prepared to think as he does, to see as he sees, to reason, to feel, to weep, and to exult along with him. His very conception of time, even in the minor accidents of the grammatical past, present, future, are to become our own. If he speaks of an event, as now passing, we are not, on the logical ground of its having in reality already transpired, to translate his present as if it were a past; or if, on the other hand, his imagination pictures the future as if even at this moment present, we are not translators but expounders, and that of a tame description, if we take the liberty to convert his time, and tense—the grammatical expression of his time—into our own. King James' translators were almost entirely unacquainted with the two distinctive peculiarities of the Hebrew mode of thinking and speaking, admitted by the most profound Hebrew scholars in theory, though, from undue timidity, never carried out in practice, viz:

1. That the Hebrews were in the habit of using the past tense to express the certainty of an action taking place, even though the action might not really be performed for some time.

2. And that the Hebrews, in referring to events which might be either past or future were accustomed to act on the principle of transferring themselves mentally to the period and place of the events themselves, and were not content with coldly viewing them as those of a bygone or still coming time; hence the very frequent use of the present tense.

These two great principles of the Hebrew language are substantially to be found in the works of Lee, Gesenius, Ewald, etc.; but the present writer has carried them out in translation much beyond what any of these ever contemplated, on the simple ground that, if they are true, they ought to be gone through with. While they affect very considerably the outward form of the translation, it is a matter of thankfulness that they do not touch the truth of a single Scripture doctrine—not even one.

Every effort has been made to secure a comparative degree of uniformity in rendering the original words and phrases. Thus, for example, the Hebrew verb nathan, which is rendered by King James' translators in sixty-seven different ways (see in the subsequent page, entitled 'Lax Renderings,') has been restricted and reduced to ten, and so with many others. It is the Translator's ever-growing conviction, that even this smaller number may be reduced still further.

It has been no part of the Translator's plan to attempt to form a New Hebrew or Greek Text—he has therefore somewhat rigidly adhered to the received ones. Where he has differed, it is generally in reference to the punctuation and accentuation, the division of words and sentences, which, being merely traditional, are, of course, often imperfect. For an explanation and vindication of these differences, the reader is referred to the “Concise Commentary,” which is designed to supplement the present volume.

The Translator has often had occasion to regret the want of a marginal column to insert the various renderings of passages where he has been unable to satisfy his own mind—he has, however, cast the chief of these into an appendix, under the title, “Additions and Corrections.” and still more elaborately in the supplementary volume.

EDINBURGH, 10th Sept. 1862

Style of the Sacred Writers, and of this Translation.

ONE of the first things that is likely to attract the attention of the Readers of this New Translation is its lively, picturesque, dramatic style, by which the inimitable beauty of the Original Text is more vividly brought out than by any previous Translation. It is true that the Revisers appointed by King James have occasionally imitated it, but only in a few familiar phrases and colloquialisms, chiefly in the Gospel Narrative, and without having any settled principles of translation to guide them on the point. The exact force of the Hebrew tenses has long been a vexed question with critics, but the time cannot be far distant when the general principles of the late learned Professor Samuel Lee of Cambridge, with some modification, will be generally adopted in substance, if not in theory. It would be entirely out of place here to enter into details on this important subject, but a very few remarks appear necessary, and may not be unacceptable to the student.

1. It would appear that the Hebrew writers, when narrating or describing events which might be either past or future (such as the case of Moses in reference to the Creation or the Deluge, on the one hand, and to the Coming of the Messiah or the Calamities which were to befall Israel, on the other), uniformly wrote as if they were alive at the time of the occurrence of the events mentioned, and as eye-witnesses of what they are narrating.

It would be needless to refer to special passages in elucidation or vindication of this principle essential to the proper understanding of the Sacred Text, as every page of this Translation affords abundant examples. It is only what common country people do in this land at the present day, and what not a few of the most popular writers in England aim at and accomplish—placing themselves and their readers in the times and places of the circumstances related.

This principle of translation has long been admitted by the best Biblical Expositors in reference to the Prophetic Delineation of Gospel times, but it is equally applicable and necessary to the historical narratives of Genesis, Ruth, etc.

2. The Hebrew writers often express the certainty of a thing taking place by putting it in the past tense, though the actual fulfillment may not take place for ages. This is easily understood and appreciated when the language is used by God, as when He says, in Gen. xv. 18, “Unto thy seed I have given this land;” and in xvii. 4, “I, lo, My covenant is with thee, and thou hast become a father of a multitude of nations.”

The same thing is found in Gen. xxiii. 11, where Ephron answers Abraham: “Nay, my lord, hear me; the field I have given to thee, and the cave that is in it; to thee I have given it; before the eyes of the sons of my people I have given it to thee; bury thy dead.” And again in Abraham's answer to Ephron: “Only—if thou wouldst hear me—I have given the money of the field; accept from me, and I bury my dead there.” Again in 2 Kings v. 6, the King of Syria, writing to the King of Israel, says: “Lo, I have sent unto thee Naaman, my servant, and thou hast recovered him from his leprosy,”—considering the King of Israel as his servant, a mere expression of the master's purpose is sufficient. In Judges viii. 19, Gideon says to Zebah and Zalmunnah, “If ye had kept them alive, I had not slain you.” So in Deut. xxxi. 18, “For all the evils that they have done”—shall have done.

It would be easy to multiply examples, but the above may suffice for the present. Some of these forms of expression are preceded by the conjunction “and” (waw, in Hebrew), and a very common opinion has been that the conjunction in these cases has a conversive power, and that the verb is not to be translated past (though so in grammatical form), but future. This is, of course, only an evasion of the supposed difficulty, not a solution, and requires to be supported by the equally untenable hypothesis that a (so-called) future tense, when preceded by the same conjunction waw (“and,”) often becomes a past. Notwithstanding these two converting hypotheses, there are numerous passages which have no conjunction before them, which can only be explained by the principle stated above.

3. The Hebrew writers are accustomed to express laws, commands, etc., in four ways:

  • By the regular imperative form, e.g., “Speak unto the people.”
  • By the infinitive, “Every male of you is to be circumcised.”
  • By the (so-called) future, “Let there be light;” “Thou shalt do no murder;” “Six days is work done.”
  • By the past tense, “Speak unto the sons of Israel, and thou hast said unto them.”

There can be no good reason why these several peculiarities should not be exhibited in the translation of the Bible, or that they should be confounded, as they often are, in the Common Version. In common life among ourselves, these forms of expression are frequently used for imperatives, e.g., “Go and do this,”—“This is to be done first,”—“You shall go,”—“You go and finish it.” There are few languages which afford such opportunities of a literal and idiomatic rendering of the Sacred Scriptures as the English tongue, and the present attempt will be found, it is believed, to exhibit this more than any other Translation.

The three preceding particulars embrace all that appears necessary for the Reader to bear in mind in reference to the Style of the New Translation. In the Supplementary “Concise Critical Commentary,” which is now in the course of being issued, abundant proofs and illustrations will be found adduced at length.

The Battle of the Hebrew Tenses.

THE uncertain state of Hebrew criticism in reference to the Tenses is so fully exhibited in the following extracts from one of the latest, and in some respects one of the best, grammatical Commentaries (by the Rev. J. A. Alexander, of Princeton, New Jersey), on the Book of Isaiah, that the reader's attention to them is specially requested.

On Isa. 5.13, Prof. A. remarks: 'Luther, Gesenius, and Hendewerk take [the verb] as a future, which is not to be assumed without necessity. Most recent writers evade the difficulty by rendering it in the present tense. The only natural construction is the old one (Septuagint, Vulgate, Vitringa, Barnes), which gives the preterite its proper meaning, and either supposes the future to be here, as often elsewhere, spoken of as already past,' etc. [This principle, though admitted and maintained by Gesenius, Lee, etc. has never been acted upon, to any extent, by any Translator till the present. It is the only principle, however, that can carry us through every difficulty in the Sacred Scriptures.]

On chap. 5.25, 'The future form given to the verbs by Clericus is altogether arbitrary. Most of the later writers follow Luther in translating them as presents. But, if this verse is not descriptive of the past, as distinguished from the present and the future, the Hebrew language is incapable of making any such distinction.' [Let this principle be carried out, as it ought to be, and nine-tenths of the common critical works on the Bible are rendered perfectly useless, and positively injurious.]

On chap. 5.26, 'Here, as in v.25, the older writers understand the verbs as future, but the later ones as present. The verbs in the last clause have waw prefixed, but its conversive power commonly depends upon a future verb preceding, which is wanting here.' [And so it is in dozens of places where Prof. A. follows in the usual wake of critics.]

On chap. 5.27, 'The English Version follows Calvin in translating all the verbs as future. The Vulgate supplies the present in the first clause, and makes the others future. But as the whole is evidently one description, the translation should be uniform, and as the preterite and future forms are intermingled, both seem to be here used for the present, which is given by Luther, and most of the late writers.' [Here, leaving all certainty and settled principles behind him, Prof. A. tells us how he thinks the inspired writer ought to have written, not what he did write.]

On chap. 8.2, 'The Vulgate takes the verb as a preterite, and Gesenius, Maurer, Knobel read accordingly with waw conversive. The Septuagint, Targum, and Peshito make it imperative, and Hitzig accordingly. Gesenius formerly preferred an indirect or subjunctive construction, which is still retained by Henderson.' [Here are four ancient versions and, five modern critics at fives and sixes regarding what is as simple as can well be imagined!]

On chap. 9.7, 'Another false antithesis is that between the verbs, referring one to past time, and the other to the future. This is adopted even by Ewald, but according to the usage of the language [rather of modern Hebrew grammar], Waw is conversive of the preterite only when preceded by a future, expressed or implied.' [By this very extraordinary rule the critic can never have any difficulty, for it is very easy to consider a verbal form implied when it suits his convenience! Yet this egregious absurdity is very commonly adopted in all existing translations, including the Common English Version; e.g., Gen, 9.12–14, where the Hebrew Text has four verbs all in the past tense, yet the first is translated as a present ('I do set'), and the remaining three as futures! The first verb is undoubtedly in the past, 'I have set,' the other three as undoubtedly, seeing the Waw by which they are preceded cannot be conversive, except when preceded by a future or an imperative, neither of which occur in this place. The solution of the supposed difficulty is only to be found in the principle stated above by Prof. A., and which is the basis of the New Translation, and maintained by Gesenius and Lee, that the Hebrews were in the habit of using the past to denote the certainty of an event taking place.]

On chap. 9.19, 'Ewald refers the first clause to the past, and the second to the present. Umbreit the first to the present, and the second to the future. But the very intermingling of the past and the future forms shows that the whole was meant to be descriptive.' [Would they not be descriptive had they been all past, or all present, or all future?]

On chap. 10.14, 'The present form, which Hendewerk adopts throughout the verses, is equally grammatical,'[though the first verb is a perfect, and the second a perfect!]

On chap. 14.24, 'Kimchi explains [the verb] to be a preterite used for a future, and this construction is adopted in most versions, ancient and modern. It is, however, altogether arbitrary, and in violation of the only safe rule as to the use of the tenses, viz., that they should have their proper and distinctive force, unless forbidden by the context or the nature of the subject, which is very far from being the case here, as we shall see below. Gesenius and De Wette evade the difficulty by rendering both the verbs as presents, a construction which is often admissible, and even necessary(!) in a descriptive context, but when used indiscriminately or inappropriately, tends both to weaken and obscure the sense. Ewald and Umbreit make the first verb present, and the second future, which is scarcely, if at all, less objectionable.'

The above extracts are surely sufficient to show that Hebrew criticism, as hitherto taught, is capable of being used to any purpose, or moulded to any form the Critic may wish. Such a state of things surely cannot continue any longer, or be adopted by any one who regards simplicity more than ingenious guesses, truth more than tradition.

View of Hebrew Tenses As Seen in the New Translation.

THE HEBREW has only two tenses, which, for want of better terms, may be called Past and Present.

The past is either perfect or imperfect, e.g., 'I lived in this house five years,' or 'I have lived in this house five years;' this distinction may and can only be known by the context, which must in all cases be viewed from the writer's standing-point.

In every other instance of its occurrence, it points out either:

1. A gentle imperative, e.g., “Lo, I have sent unto thee Naaman my servant, and thou hast recovered him from his leprosy;” see also Zech. 1.3, etc.; or

2. A fixed determination that a certain thing shall be done, e.g., “Nay, my lord, hear me, the field I have given to thee, and the cave that is in it; to thee I have given it; before the eyes of the sons of my people I have given it to thee; bury thy dead;” and in the answer, “Only—if thou wouldst hear me—I have given the money of the field.”

The present tense—as in the Modern Arabic, Syriac, and Amharic, the only living remains of the Semitic languages—besides its proper use, is used rhetorically for the future, there being no grammatical form to distinguish them; this, however, causes no more difficulty than it does in English, Turkish, Greek, Sanskrit, etc., the usages of which may be seen in the Extracts from the principal grammarians.

In every other instance of its occurrence, it points out an imperative, not so gently as when a preterite is used for this purpose, nor so stern as when the regular imperative form is employed, but more like the infinitive, Thou art to write no more; thou mayest write no more.

The present participle differs from the present tense just in the same manner and to the same extent as “I am writing, or, I am a writer,” does from, “I write, or, I do write.”

THE ABOVE VIEW of the Hebrew tenses is equally applicable to all the Semitic languages, including the Ancient and Modern Arabic, the Ancient and Modern Syriac, the Ancient and Modern Ethiopic, the Samaritan, the Chaldee, and the Rabbinical Hebrew—not one of which is admitted to have the Waw Conversive.

It may be added, that all the Teutonic languages—fourteen in number—agree with the Semitic in rejecting a future tense; the futurity of an event being indicated either by auxiliary verbs, adverbs, and other particles, or by the context.

Analysis of the Verbs in Genesis ix. 12–15.

12 “And God saith, This is the token of the covenant that I am making between Me and you, and every living creature that is with you, for generations age-during; 13 My bow I have given in the cloud, and it hath been for a token of a covenant between Me and the earth; 14 and it hath come to pass, in My sending a cloud over the earth, that the bow hath been seen in the cloud, 15 and I have remembered My covenant, that is between Me and you, and every living creature of all flesh, and the waters become no more a deluge to destroy all flesh.”

  • Verse 12. And God saith.] The present tense is used, according to the almost universal custom of the Hebrews, etc., to bring up the narrative to the present time. The conjunction and has no special or logical significance, but is used simply to break the abruptness of the opening sentence, as the Hebrews scarcely ever allow a verb in the present or past tense to commence a sentence, especially in prose, without some other word preceding it; the only other way would have been to put the nominative before the verb, but this, though occasionally used, is not agreeable to Hebrew taste.
  • This (is) the token.] The Hebrew substantive verb is, in the present tense, very frequently omitted; in the past tense, it is very rarely, if ever, omitted.
  • That I am making, lit. giving.] The participle is more strikingly expressive of present action than if the present tense had been employed.
  • That (is) with you.] The present tense of the substantive verb is understood as above, according to the unus loquendi.
  • V.13. My bow I have given in the cloud.] The past tense here is used to express a fixed determination that the circumstance mentioned is undoubtedly to take place; most unwarrantably does the Common Version translate as a present, 'I do set;' while the theory of the Waw conversive has no place here, since there is no Waw to work on.
  • And it hath become.] The fixed determination is here continued from the preceding clause; on no grammatical principle can it be rendered present, much less future, as it is in the Common Version; the Waw here can have no converting power, there being no future preceding it to rest on, as the rules of Waw conversive imperatively demand.
  • V.14. It hath come to pass—the bow hath been seen—I have remembered]—though rendered future in the Common Version, are all past, being preceded by pasts, and are to be explained by the same principle—of expressing the certainty of a future action by putting it in the past, owing to the determination of the speaker that it must be.

The only remaining verb in the 15th verse is correctly put in the present tense; the speaker, going forward in thought to the period when the events alluded to take place, declares graphically that 'the waters become no more a deluge to destroy all flesh.'

“Waw Conversive” A Fiction—Not a Fact.

THE doctrine of “Waw Conversive,” according to the common Hebrew Grammars, is:

  • “The past tense with the prefix waw, expresses future time when preceded by a verb in the future or by an imperative.” And again:
  • “The future tense, with the prefix waw, and dagesh in the following letter, is used to express the past.” [See the Grammars of Hurwitz, Gesenius, etc.]

The objections to this doctrine may be summed up in four particulars:

1. It is insufficient to explain the many thousands of passages in the Hebrew Bible where a past tense is preceded neither by a future nor by an imperative, yet where it is “converted” in the Common English Bible, and with as much propriety as in any of those instances that are supposed to be indisputable: e.g. Ge. 3.12, “This (is) the token of the covenant that I am making between Me and you ... my bow I have set in the cloud, and it hath become the token of the covenant ... and it hath come to pass ... and it hath been seen ... and I have remembered ... and the waters do no more,” etc.

Ge. 17.4, “Lo, My covenant (is) with thee, and thou hast become the father of a multitude of nations.” The true solution of the principle involved in these passages is: That the Hebrews were in the habit of expressing the certainty of an action taking place by putting it in the past tense (see particularly Ge. 23.11, I have given ... I have given ... I have given;” also in verse 13, “I have given”), taking its fulfilment for granted.

2. It leads to results rather startling, viz. that most, if not all, of the Hebrew particles are conversive! Grammarians have already been driven to admit, or rather assert, that az then, and terem not yet, are conversive as well as waw.

But the list might be enlarged with such as the following:

   1 Kings 10.22—ahath, once . . . . 'once in three years cometh.'
      Num.  3.23—ahari, behind . . . 'behind they do encamp westward.'
     Judg.  5. 8—im, not . . . . . . 'there is not seen.'
     Judg.  5.29—aph, yea  . . . . . 'yea, she returneth.'
      Gen.  6. 4—asher, when . . . . 'when they come in.
     Deut. 12.30—aicah, how? . . . . 'how do they serve?'
     Ezek. 21.32—gam, also . . . . . 'this also hath not been.'
     1 Sa. 21.14—hinneh, lo  . . . . 'lo, you see the man is mad.'
     Exod. 18.15—ki, because . . . . 'because the people come unto me.'
     Exod.  1.12—ken, so . . . . . . 'so they multiply.'
      Gen. 32.26—ki im, except . . . 'except thou hast blessed me.'
      Ruth  2.13—lo, not . . . . . . 'and I—I am not as one.'
      1 a. 21.14—lamah, why? . . . . 'why do ye bring him unto me?'
           19.24—al ken, therefore . 'therefore they say.'
     Josh.  9. 8—me-ayin, whence?  . 'whence come ye?
      Gen. 37.12—ma, what? . . . . . 'what dost thou seek?'
           21. 7—mi, who?  . . . . . 'who hath said?'

This is only a small specimen of what might be adduced. It is not too much to say that the above twenty particles (including az, waw, and terem) might be doubled, if not tripled, in number.

3. It requires us to admit that the form yiqtol is essentially a future tense, while from the analogy of the Modern and Ancient Arabic, as well as from its use in the following passages (which might easily be multiplied), it is evidently an indefinite present, expressive of habitual action, which may very naturally be viewed as being or continuing in operation at some period afterwards as well as at present.

      Ge. 2.10—yippared, it is parted.
            19—yikra, he calleth
          6. 4—yavou, they come in.
         10. 9—yeamar, it is said.
         31.39—ahattenah, I repay it.
              —tevakshenah, thou dost seek it.
   1 Sa. 13.17—yiphneh, he turneth.
         14.47vyarshia, he vexeth.
         21.14—taviu, do ye bring; tiru, you see.
    Isa.  1.11—yomar, he saith.
     Job  3.11vamuth, do I die.
             3vivvaled, I am born.

None of these passages can with any propriety be regarded as expressive of future action; and there seems no rational way of solving the problem but by regarding the tense as is done above.

4. It is not found in any other language; and in particular, it is unknown in all the cognate Semitic dialects, viz., the Samaritan, Chaldee, Syriac, Arabic, and Ethiopic, and in all the voluminous uninspired literature of the Jews. Attempts have been made to find something like it in the use of the Arabic particle pha, but, as Professor Lee has well remarked (in his Hebrew Grammar and Lexicon), the same thing might be alleged of most other Arabic particles, such as la, no, lam, not, lamma, why, summa, then, etc., which no one has ever as yet thought of doing.

The Arabs, in order to lessen the occasional ambiguity arising from the same form of the verb being used indifferently for the present and the future, sometimes prefix to it the particle sa (a contraction of soufa, at last, hereafter), which makes it strictly future, and sometimes the word ammal (an agent), which makes it strictly present.

The Waw Conversive—Imperfect.

                                           bal tyyhw , Kta ytyrb hnh yna
                             hyhw , Mrba Kms-ta dwe arqy-alw , Mywg Nwmh
                                      :Kyttn Mywg Nwmh-ba yk , Mhrba Kms

Common Version: “As for Me behold, My covenant [is] with thee, and thou SHALT be a father of many nations; neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham, for a father of many nations HAVE I made thee.” New Version: “I—lo, My covenant [is] with thee, and thou HAST become a father of a multitude of nations, and thy name is no more called Abram, but thy name hath been Abraham, for a father of a multitude of nations HAVE I made thee.”—Gen. 17.4, 5.

It is the first and the last of the verbs in the above verses to which the reader's attention is specially requested, viz, those translated in the Common Version, “Thou shalt be,” and “I have made,” and in the New Version, “Thou hast become,” and “I have made.” Both Versions agree in translating the last verb as a preterite, “I have made;” as the form of the verb is admitted on all hands to be that of a preterite.

The versions differ, however, in the translation of the first verb, the one rendering it by the future “shall,” the other by the preterite “hast.”

The question at issue is: Which of the two is right? Both cannot be right—one must be wrong.

It is undoubtedly in the preterite form, precisely like the last verb in the sentence, admitted on all hands to be a preterite. Why then should this not be translated as a preterite likewise ?

If it be said, that the sense requires it to be translated as a future, seeing it is not literally true that Abraham was a father of many nations at the moment that God addressed these words to him, then, on precisely the same principle, the last verb ought to be translated as a future, “I will make thee,”—not “I have made thee,” as both versions agree in doing—as it is not literally true, that, at the moment when God thus addressed him, He had made him a father of many nations.

If no one will venture to translate the last verb as a future, why should the first be so rendered?

If it be said that the first verb has a conjunction before it, called Waw, signifying “and,” and that the Hebrew Grammarians have laid it down as an idiom of the language, that, in certain circumstances, Waw before a preterite indicates that the preterite is to be reckoned as a future, the answer is: These circumstances do not exist in the present case.

The fundamental Rule laid down by all Hebrew Grammarians to regulate Waw Conversive is: that the first verb to be converted must be preceded by one of a different tense, e.g., a preterite must be preceded by a future, and a future by a preterite.

But, in the passage before us, there is, in the Hebrew, no verb at all preceding the one supposed to be converted, and consequently the Rule cannot operate.

On no principle of Hebrew Grammar, as commonly taught, can the Conversive Principle come into operation in this passage, and it is only one out of hundreds of similar instances.

The solution of the matter is found in the principle: That the Hebrews were in the habit of using the preterite form of the verb to denote a fixed determination that the things mentioned shall and must take place; this principle is common to all the Semitic languages; it is distinctly admitted by the best Hebrew Grammarians; it is common to the New Testament Writers, and to the whole series of Greek and Latin Classics, (see Winer, Stuart, Kuhner, etc.) and it is the only one that meets all cases.

The Waw Conversive, on the contrary, is unknown in every other Hebrew composition—in every other Semitic dialect—in every other language on earth.

Hebrew Tenses Illustrated by Those of Other Languages.


THE oldest writings in the Hebrew language, after the Old Testament, are the Talmuds, large portions of which we have examined to find some examples of Waw Conversive, but in vain; we have not found a single instance of a preterite converted into a future, or any thing that bears the slightest resemblance to it.

With the same view we have read large portions of the best Rabbinical Commentators, Kimchi, Jarchi, Aben-Ezra; the Jewish Prayer-Books, the Hebrew translations of the New Testament, of the Pilgrim's Progress, of Dr M'Caul's Old Paths, and have looked over other Hebrew works too numerous to mention, and all with the same negative result. How is it at all possible that the Hebrew language, as found in the Old Testament, can have a Waw Conversive, if it be wanting in all the oldest and most valued later Hebrew writings? Can credulity go farther?

The astounding fact is: that, out of the hundreds of languages which are, and have been, spoken on the earth, not one, except the Hebrew, is supposed to have the Waw Conversive; while, out of the hundreds of volumes which have been published in the Hebrew language, not one, except the Old Testament, has the Waw Conversive!


NICHOLLS writes: “Some verbs include, under the perfect form, both a perfect and present tense, ... we sometimes find a future circumstance related in the perfect tense, as something that has actually taken place, the design of the writers in this case was to mark the future occurrence as something already evidently decreed and decided on, and therefore as it were accomplished: thus Ge. 15.18, 'To thy sons have I given the land.' “The peculiar use of Waw, called Waw Conversive among the Hebrews, is unknown to the Samaritans, Chaldees, and Syrians.

“The future tense, besides the force of a future, seems to have the force of a present; as Ge. 37.15, 'What seekest thou?' Ex. 5.15, 'Why do ye do so?'”—Grammar, p. 93, 94.


LUDOLPH writes: “Praesens tantum in subjunctivo occurrit; nam indicativi futuro utuntur pro praesenti; quod quidem nostro idiomati assuetis oppido iucommodum videtur, sensus tamen, constructio, longnsque usus, huic defectui succurrit.

“Praeteritum ... continet autem sub se caetera praeterita latinorum, imperfectivum, et plusquam perfectum indicativi et subjunctivi, nec non futurum subjunctiva, si particulae id poscant, ut Ps. 50.17; 54.12, 13.

“Excipe hale; defectum, quod praesentis et imperfecti indicativi signiticationem habet, est, erat adest, aderat.” “Futurum, ut dixemus, hic etiam pro presenti indicativi est.”—Gram. p. 19, 20).


ISENBERG writes: “The Abyssinians have not, strictly speaking, more than two divisions of time, i.e., the past and the present; the present being used also for the future.... The present, which might be perhaps with propriety called aorist [?] because it is applicable to the future, as well as to the present tense, is a form composed of the contingent and the auxiliary.

“Whether this form, when it occurs, is intended for the present or the future, generally depends on the context. In order, however, to have no doubt when they speak of future things, they use the simple contingent form with additional particles, 'I have [am] to be honorable; time is for me [to come] that I am to be honorable.'

“The simple preterite of the indicative is used ... for the present or immediate future. ... 'I am gone,' i.e., if you allow me I go now; or when a person is frequently called, and does not come, he at last answers, [I have come, I have come, i.e.] 'I come, I come.'

“The present indicative is used for both the present and the future tenses.

“The future time is generally expressed by the same forms which serve for the present, except the aoristic construction. In page 66 of this work we pointed out a decidedly future form, besides which they make use of the contingent with al and dohonal; but these two latter forms are not confined to the future; they are also used for the present tense.”


GESENIUS writes: “Ich folge der Anordnung der Grammatiker fur die arabische vulgar-sprache, in welcher bekantlich, wie in Maltese, das Fut. praesent ist.—P. 16.


TATTAM writes: “Instances frequently occur, in which the present tense is used for the perfect, and also for the future. “The future tense and future participles are sometimes used to express the present and perfect tenses.”—Grammar, p. 61–66.


RICHARDSON writes: “The preterite is used also in place of the future, and other tenses, which an attention to the construction only can render familiar. “The particle la, 'not,' gives to the preterite the signification of the present, 'the fruit of timidity does not gain [hath not gained], and doth not lose [hath not lost]. ... Perceded by az, or aza, 'when,' it becomes the future of the subjunctive, 'when you shall be [have been] among strange people, to whom you do not belong, then eat whatever is set before you, whether it be bad or good.'

“The future corresponds more frequently to our present than to any other tense, as may be remarked in almost every passage. ... It is frequently restrained to a future tense when the particle sa is prefixed ... the negative lana, 'not at all,' together with the particles saufa, saf, saw, say, give it likewise the future sense. When preceded by ma, 'not,' it has for the most part a present signification. ... lam and lama, 'not yet,' gives it, according to Erpenius, the sense of the preterite.”—Grammar, p. 81–89


FARIS EL-SHIDIAC writes: “The form for the future of the verb is also applicable for the present. The modern Arabs, therefore, make it a real present by joining it to some other word. Thus howa yaktuba, signifies he writes, or he will write. But howa ammal yaktuba, has the single signification of he is writing. “Although in the classical Arabic there are two particles, sa and saufa employed to confine the verb to the future, they are very seldom used in ordinary books.”—Grammar, p. 38.


HOFFMAN writes: “Praet. pro Fut. in sermonibus propheticis, asseverationibus, vel in expectatione interdum, sed multo rarius, quam in Hebraicis libris usurpatur (Praet. propheticum), ita ut viva loquentis imaginatione id, quod futurum est, tanquam praeteritum aut certe praesens fingatur; e.g., Es. 9.1, Ge. 17.20; 40.14, Job 19.27, Jo. 5.24. “Praet. pro Imper. ut quamquam non omnino prohibitum, tamen in uno fere verbo hewo vulgare est, idque in sermonibus tum affirmantibus tum negantibus, praecipue ubi cum Adject. aut Partic. conjunctum legitur, ut Mat. 5.25; 6.7, Mar. 5.34; 13.37, Lu. 10.37; 11.2; 13.14, Rom. 12.9–14, 16, 1Cor. 11.24; 14.20, Eph. 4.32, Tit. 3.1, 1Jo. 4.1.

“Praet. pro Fut. exacto poni, non singulare putarim, quia hoc tempus praeteriti notionem certo includit; ita in his sententiis hypotheticis, De. 4.30, 1Sa. 10.2.

The future is used: “pro praes. neque tamen tam crebro, quam in Hebraico sermone, e.g. 1Sa. 1.8, Ephr. 1.119, f., Ge. 4.15, Es. 43.17.

“Fut. Syriaco ea quoque indicantur, quae Romani praes. conjunct, designant; itaque a) Optativus, ut Ps. 7.10, Cant. 7.9, 1Reg. 17.21, deinde b) Germanorum formulae loquendi verbo quodam auxiliari (mogen, durfer, konnen, sollen), effectae, ut Ps. 7.10, Es. 19.12; 47.13. Esdr. 19.14 Ge. 2.16; 3.2; 30.31, Ju. 14.16, Pr. 20.9, Non minus c) Imper. hoc tempore signatur, quid? quod in praeceptis ad aliquid prohibendum datis, cum Imper. prohibitive usurpari nequeat (P 132, 1), vulgo eo utuntur, e.g., Ge. 46.3, Ex. 20.13–17, Ruth 1.20.”—Grammar, p. 332–336.

UHLEMANN writes: “The past designates the present tense a) in prophecies, asseverations, and the like, which are viewed as already fulfilled and accomplished.

“The future stands for ... the present, although more rarely than in Hebrew.

“The preterite also stands for the imperative.”—Grammar, p. 171–7.


STODDART writes.—“Present tense. This is sometimes used ... as a future, 'we are going after a month;' so in Ge. 6.17, where in the modern language we have the present tense, and in the ancient the active participle. “Preterite tense.—1) Used as a present: e.g., a man in distress says; 'I died, i.e., I am dead; I choked, i.e., I am choked, or I am drowned.' A boy in recitation, if confused, will say 'it lost on me,' i.e., I have lost it. Ask a man how his business is today, and he may reply, 'It remained [remains] just so.' Persons coming to make a petition will tell us, 'we poured (i.e., we now place) our hope on you.' Compare Ancient Syriac, (Hoff. P 129, 4.b.c.) (Compare also Ps. 1.1, in the Ancient and Modern.

“4) As a future, e.g., if you died tomorrow, you perished; if you believe, Christ just now (i.e., at this moment) received [will receive] you;' this is no doubt an emphatic future. Compare Nordh. P 966. 1,c.

“5) As a subjunctive present. ... Many of the idioms mentioned above give force and vivacity to the language. We are thus allowed to speak of events and actions which are present or future, though definite, or future and contingent, as if they had actually transpired and were recorded in the past. On this account the preterite is often used in Hebrew in the language of prophecy.

“It is not strange that these different idioms lead to ambiguity, which no acquaintance with the language will fully remove; e.g., [a certain given phrase] may be translated, 'our sweet voices let us all raise; or we do all raise, or we will all raise.' The perplexity thus caused, however, is as nothing compared with the puzzling expressions we often find in Hebrew.”—Grammar, p. 158–164.


BARKER writes: “The first tense [i.e. the present] has also a future signification; aidrm is used for 'I do' and 'I will do' equally. It is therefore called aorist [?] by Mr Redhouse.” The present participle aider, 'doing,' has, Mr Barker says, a future sense also.—Grammar, p. 27, 28.


BLEECK writes: “In narration, when, after a verb in the preterite, a second verb occurs, which in English would also be naturally in a past tense, the Persians employ the present (or aorist), as, 'The young tiger saw that he has not the power of resisting.' Similarly, in recounting a conversation, the Persians always make use of a dramatic style, i.e., they report the very words, as, Hattim told her that he would not eat—lit., Hattim said to her thus, I will not eat.”—Grammar, p. 79.


WILLIAMS writes: “Present tense. This tense, besides its proper use, is frequently used for the future; as, 'whether shall [do] I go? when shall [do] I see thee?' “In narrative it is commonly used for the past tense; as, 'he having touched the ground, touches his ears, and says.' ... The particle sma, when used with the present, gives it the force of a perfect.”—Grammar, p. 198, 199.


CLARKSON writes: “Present [tense expresses] in familiar conversation action as about to take place immediately, 'I am sending [going to send] a servant with you; [also] action originating in past time, and not yet completed, where the English uses the perfect of the auxiliary, 'How many days have you been [are you] studying Gujarati.'

“It is used in narrative of past events, when writing seriatim.

“It expresses future action, which, on account of its certainty, is viewed as present by the speaker, e.g., I go [shall go] this year to Bombay.

“The first future ... is used ... where the English uses the present, especially when preceded by jare, 'when,'—when my brother comes, lit. shall come.'—Grammar, p. 73, 74.


Shakespear writes: “The past indefinite of a verb seems at times used in a present or future sense. ... The present, when celerity in the performance of any enterprise is emphatically denoted, may be used in the sense of the future. ... The indefinite future or aorist may not only convey a present meaning, but it may even be construed with an auxiliary verb as a present participle even.”—Grammar, p. 136.


LOW writes: “The present tense of this [indicative] mood is in its nature indefinite, ... I remain or I will remain; you are not to go yonder, i.e., you will [shall?] not go. ... 'I shot a bird,' as it stands, might be also rendered, 'I shoot a bird.'—Grammar, p. 47.


CAMPBELL writes: “It is of much importance for the reader to understand that the two forms of the future tense are seldom used; the present or the aorist being commonly substituted for them.”—Grammar, p. 99.


CRAWFORD writes: “Time is often left to be inferred from the context, and, indeed, is expressed only when it is indispensable to the sense that it should be specified. “The tenses, when they must be specified, are formed by auxiliaries, which are either verbs or adverbs.”—Grammar, p. 48.


WILLIAMS writes: “The present and perfect, when formed by ka, will generally be distinguished by the sense.”—p. 63.


GROWTHER writes: “The present and imperfect tenses are both alike; as moh loh, I go, I went; awa de, we return, we returned; o sung, he sleeps, he slept; o joko, thou sittest, thou sattest. ... The present tense, strictly speaking, is more frequently expressed by the sign of the particle ng, and [it] is then understood that the action is not yet past; as a'ngkoh takardah, we are writing a book.”—Vocabulary, p. 16.


PRIESTLEY writes: “A little reflection may, I think suffice to convince any person that we have no more business with a future tense in our language than we have with the whole system of Latin moods and tenses; because we have no modification of our verbs to correspond to it; and if we had never heard of a future tense in some other language, we should no more have given a particular name to the combination of the verb with the auxiliary shall or will, than to those that are made with the auxiliaries do, have, can, must, or any other.”—English Grammar.

LATHAM writes: “Notwithstanding its name, the present tense, in English, does not express a strictly present action; it rather expresses an habitual one. He speaks well—he is a good speaker. If a man means to say that he is in the act of speaking, he says, I am speaking. It has also, especially when combined with a subjunctive mood, a future power. I beat you (—I will beat you) if you don't leave off.”—English Language, p. 455.

LINDLEY MURRAY writes: “The present tense, preceded by the words when, before, after, as soon as, etc., is sometimes [often?] used to point out the relative time of a future action; as, 'When he arrives he will hear the news;' 'He will hear the news before he arrives;' or, 'As soon as he arrives,' or, 'At, farthest, soon after he arrives;' 'The more she improves, the more amiable she will be.'

“In animated historical narratives, this tense is sometimes [always?] substituted for the imperfect tense; as, 'He enters the territory of the peaceful inhabitants, he fights and conquers, takes an immense booty, which he divides among his soldiers, and returns home to enjoy an empty triumph.'

“The perfect tense, preceded by the words when, after, as soon as, etc., is often used to denote the relative time of a future action; as, 'When I have finished my letter, I will attend to his request;' 'I will attend to this business, as soon as I have finished my letter.'

“It is to be observed, that in the subjunctive mood ... the verb itself in the present, and the auxiliary both of the present and past-imperfect tenses often carry with them somewhat of a future sense; as, 'If he come tomorrow, I may speak to him; if he should or would come tomorrow, I might, could, would, or should speak to him.'

“Observe also, that the auxiliaries should and would, in the imperfect tenses, are used to express the present and future as well as the past: as, 'It is my desire, that he should, or would, come now, or tomorrow;' as well as, 'It was my desire, that he should or would come yesterday;' so that, in this mood, the precise time of the verb is very much determined by the nature and drift of the sentence."—Grammar, p. 116–119.

PICKBOURN writes: “The first of these English tenses, viz., I write, is an aorist [?], or indefinite of the present time.

“Even those compound participles, which denote completed or finished actions, may be applied to future, as well as past and present time. Thus: “Whenever that ambitious young prince comes to the throne, being supported by a veteran army, and having got possession of the treasures which will be [are] found in his father's coffers, he,” etc.—English Verb, p. 111.

MARSH writes: “It is a curious fact that the Romance languages, as well as the Romaic, at one period of their history, all rejected the ancient inflected futures, and formed new compound or auxiliary ones, employing for that purpose the verbs will and shall, or have in the sense of duty or necessity, though French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese, have now agglutinated the infinite and auxiliary into a simple future.

“Why is it that the Gothic languages have always possessed a past tense, never a future? Why did the Romance dialects retain the Latin past forms, and reject the Latin future?”

“If the expression of time is an inherent necessity of the verb, special forms for the future as well as the present and the past ought to be universal, but in most modern European languages, the future is a compound, the elements of which are a present auxiliary and an aorist infinitive, for in the phrases I shall go, he will go, shall and will are in the present tense, and go is aoristic.

“The Anglo-Saxon, with a single exception in the case of a substantive verb, had absolutely no mode of expressing the future by any verbal form, simple or compound. The context alone determined the time, and in German, in the Scandinavian dialects, and in English, we still very commonly, as the Anglo-Saxons did, express the future by a present. Ich gehe morgen nach London, I go, or I am going, to London tomorrow, are more frequently used by Germans and Englishmen, than ich werde gehen, I shall or will go; and the adverbial nouns morgen and tomorrow, not the verbs gehen and go, are the true time-words.

“The use of the present for the past, too, especially in spirited narrative and in poetry, is not less familiar, and in both these cases the expression of time belongs to the grammatical period, not to the verb.”—Lectures, p. 204.

Summary of the New View of the Hebrew Verb.

From these pages the scholar can scarcely fail to infer that:

1. The form of the Hebrew verb yiqtol, denotes a real present, and not a future:

  • Because it is admitted by Ewald, Gesenius, Lee, Rodiger, and every other Hebrew Grammarian of name, that it is so in numberless places, and because there are thousands of instances where the Common English Version, and all other versions, ancient and modern, do rightly translate it as a present.
  • Because there are numerous passages where it cannot possibly be a future; and as it is impossible, in the very nature of things, for a real future to express present time,—whereas it is very common, in almost all languages, rhetorically to express futurity by a present—it must be a present, and not a future.
  • Because in all the Cognate Semitic Dialects it is regarded as a present.

2. The form of the Hebrew verb qatal denotes a past (perfect or imperfect). It is also used idiomatically:

  • To express a gentle imperative; this is universally agreed by all Hebrew Grammarians to be the case when it is preceded by a regular imperative, e.g., “Speak and say,” lit., Speak, and thou hast said; but this limitation of theirs arises from imperfect acquaintance with the facts of the case, as there are many passages where there is no imperative preceding, yet where the past tense is used to express a command, e.g., Zech. 1.3, “And thou hast said,” i.e, “Say thou.” This idiom is also admitted to be common in all the Cognate Semitic Dialects.
  • To express a fixed determination that a certain thing must and shall be. This idiom is distinctly admitted by the above-mentioned Hebrew Grammarians, and is common, not only in the Cognate Semitic Dialects, but in the Greek New Testament, and also in the Greek and Latin Classics, as shown by Stuart, Winer, Macknight, Kuhner, and others.

3. The Waw Conversive is unnecessary. It is based upon superficial data, for:

  • It supposes yiqtol to be an exclusively future form, which is not the case.
  • It ignores the idiomatic use of the past tense to express a “fixed determination,” which is admitted by all Hebrew Grammarians.
  • It casts the utmost uncertainty over the language, as, on the very same principles by which waw is supposed to be conversive, the particles once, behind, not, yea, when, how? also, lo, because, so, except, why? therefore, whence? what? and who? must be held to be conversive likewise—which no sane man will venture to maintain.
  • It does not explain all the phenomena of the case, for there are numberless passages “where a past tense is preceded neither by a future nor by an imperative (as the rules of Waw Conversive imperatively require), yet, when it is converted in the Common English Version, and with as much propriety as in any of those instances which are supposed to be indisputable.”
  • It is unparalleled among all the other languages of the world—ancient and modern, eastern and western. It is found in no other composition in the Hebrew Language; in all the most ancient, and valued, and voluminous Hebrew writings it is wanting;—the Talmudim, the Perushim, the Midrashim, have it not. If the Hebrew language ever had a Waw Conversive, is it at all likely that it should suddenly, totally, and unobservedly drop out of existence?

The result of the whole is: That the Waw Conversive does not exist in the Hebrew Bible, and is Unnecessary, Imperfect, and Unexampled in any language.

It has only a traditional existence, being the too hasty generalization of some ancient grammarians, who observed that the Septuagint Translators had—with the freedom which characterizes their whole work both in style and sentiments—deemed the Hebrew idioms too colloquial for the fastidious Greeks, and too simple for the dignity of literary composition; and as all succeeding translators, without an exception, were under the spell of the sacred character of that Version, it is no wonder, though much to be regretted, that their example was followed. Of late years there has been a very strong tendency in translators and expositors to adhere more than ever to the exact form of the Hebrew and Greek Tenses, but the present Translation is the first and only one in which it is carried out systematically.

Confused Renderings of King James' Revisers.

The English verb 'destroy' is, in the Common Version, the representative of not less than forty-nine different Hebrew words (as may be seen in the 'Englishman's Hebrew Concordance,' p. 1510 of second edition);—the verb 'to set,' of forty, and 'to bring,' of thirty-nine, etc. It is evident, therefore, that the use of 'Cruden's Concordance,' and all others based on the Common Version, can only mislead the mere English reader.

The following list of words, with the number of their Hebrew representatives (according to the Common Version) expressed in numerals, will surprise all who have not hitherto attended to this subject; viz:

To abhor 12, abide 13, abundance 11, affliction 12, to be afraid 22, after 13, against 13, among 11, to be angry 10, another 11, to appoint 24, appointed 10, army 10, at 13, to bear 13, beauty 15, before 22, beside 14, to bind 15, body 12, border 13, bough 13, branch 20, to break 33, bright 10, to bring 39, to bring forth 21, broken 12, to be broken 16, to burn 19, burning 12, but 15, by 14, captain 16, captivity 10, to carry away 10, to carry 12, to cast 19, to cast down 19, to cast out 15, to catch 12, to cease 21, chain 10, chamber 10, change 16, to be changed 10, chief 10, to cleave 15, coast 10, to come 32, commandment 12, companion 10, company 22, to consider 18, to consume 21, consumed 10, to continue 11, corner 10, country 10, to cover 21, covering 13, to cry 17, to cut down 10, to be cut down 13, to cut off 18, to be cut off 14, dark 11, darkness 10, to declare 11, decree 11, to be defiled 10, to deliver 26, to depart 18, desire 13, to desire 13, desolate 16, to be desolate 11, desolation 12, to despise 10, to destroy 49, to be destroyed 17, destruction 35, to divide 19, to draw out 10, dung 10, to dwell 14, dwelling 11, east 10, end 26, to establish 13, to be exalted 11, excellent 10, to fail 30, to faint 18, to fall 14, fear 16, to fear 10, flood 10, for 21, foundation 11, from 17, fruit 12, garment 14, to gather 23, to gather together 16, to be gathered 10, to be gathered together 14, to get 16, gift 12, to give 15, glorious 12, glory 10, to go 22, goodly 15, governor 12, great 24, grief 10, to be grieved 17, grievous 10, to grow 13, habitation 17, to harden 10, haste 11, to make haste 10, height 11, to hide 14, to hide self 12, high 18, to hold 12, hurt 11, idol 11, if 10, in 13, to increase 17, iniquity 11, to be joined 10, judgment 10, to keep 11, to kindle 15, knowledge 12, labor 10, to be laid 10, to lay 24, to lead 12, to leave 15, to be left 11, to lift up 15, light 13, to long 10, to look 16, to be made 11, majesty 10, to make 23, man 12, to mark 10, measure 13, meat 14, to meet 10, midst 10, might 12, mighty 26, to mourn 12, to move 15, to be moved 13, much 10, multitude 14, net 10, not 14, now 13, of 10, to offer 22, offering 10, old 13, only 11, to oppress 10, to ordain 12, over 10, to overthrow 11, palace 10, part 14, people 10, to perceive 10, to perish 13, pit 12, place 13, pleasant 17, pleasure 10, poor 10, portion 13, to pour out 12, power 17, to prepare 14, to prevail 15, pride 10, prince 11, proud 16, to put 28, to regard 17, rejoice 19, to remain 16, remnant 11, to remove 20, to be removed 11, to repair 10, to rest 17, reward 16, riches 10, right 16, river 11, ruler 13, to run 14, scatter 12, to be scattered 10, secret 12, to set 40, to be set 13, to set up 18, to shake 15, to shew 19, to shine 11, to shut 11, side 13, to be slain 14, slaughter 12, to slay 15, to smite 12, sorrow 28, to speak 22, speech 10, spoil 10, to spoil 16, to spread 15, to stay 14, to stop 10, strength 33, to strengthen 12, strong 26, substance 14, to take 34, to take away 24, to be taken away 10, to tarry 16, to teach 10, to tell 12, terror 10, that 16, these 16, think 12, this 20, thought 11, through 11, thus 10, to 12, tremble 13, trouble 14, to trouble 12, to be troubled 14, truth 11, to turn 15, to turn aside 10, to be turned 10, understanding 14, to utter 15, to vex 16, to wait 10, wall 13, waste 10, to waste 10, when 12, where 13, which 11, wisdom 12, with 18, within 12, without 12, word 10, work 15, wrath 10, yet 10, youth 11.

To make afraid 8, ancient 8, army 8, ask 8, assembly 8, back 9, band 9, battle 8, beat 9, because of 8, to behold 9, bottom 8, break down 8, to be brought 9, burden 8, to be burned 8, cast down 9, cause 9, to charge 8, chariot 8, clean 8, come upon 8, commit 8, to compass 9, confirm 9, cry out 8, to cut 8, to dance 8, deceitful 8, deep 9, defense 8, to be delivered 9, destroyer 8, devour 9, to direct 9, to do 9, to be done 8, to draw 9, to drive 8, drive away 8, dry 8, edge 8, enemy 9, even 8, ever 8, excellency 8, except 8, fair 8, fall down 8, fat 8, favor 8, to feed 9, fellow 9, first 9, flame 9, folly 9, foolish 9, form 9, friend 9, full 9, to gather selves together 8, be glad 9, going 9, be gone 9, goods 8, grieve 9, guide 8, heart 8, here 8, be hid 9, hole 8, honor 9, hope 9, image 9, increase 9, it 8, kill 9, lamb 9, to lament 9, to lay up 9, to leap 8, lift up self 8, to be lifted up 9, like 8, to be liked 8, line 8, little one 8, long 8, lord 8, lying 8, majesty 8, manner 9, to melt 9, mischief 8, to mock 8, mourning 8, none 8, officer 8, one 8, to open 9, oppressor 8, other 8, pain 9, to part 8, path 9, perfect 9, to perform 8, to pervert 8, piece 9, plain 8, pluck 8, polluted 9, possession 9, pray 9, precious 8, preserve 8, price 8, prison 9, prosper 9, pure 9, purpose 9, put away 9, put on 9, raise up 9, ready 8, receive 9, rejoicing 9, rest 8, return 8, ruin 8, to rule 9, to be sanctified 8, save 8, to say 8, search 8, see 9, shame 9, sheep 8, to shoot 8, to shout 8, shut up 8, sin 9, since 8, to sing 8, small 9, snare 9, son 8, sore 9, to sound 8, space 8, spring, 8, staff 9, step 8, stir up 8, stranger 9, stream 9, strike 8, strive 9, stronghold 9, subdue 8, such 8, surety 8, sweet 9, to be taken 8, tear 9, thick 8.

The above are taken from a most useful book, entitled 'The Englishman's Hebrew Concordance,' which only requires the insertion of the Hebrew Particles to make it a complete work.

'The Bible Student's Guide,' by the Rev. W. Wilson, D.D., cannot be sufficiently commended as an accurate and elaborate Key to the mixed renderings of King James' Revisers.

Lax Renderings of King James' Revisers.

NATHAN, 'to give,' is rendered (in the Kal conjugation) by such words as: to add, apply, appoint, ascribe, assign, bestow, bring, bring forth, cast, cause, charge, come, commit, consider, count, deliver, deliver up, direct, distribute, fasten, frame, give, give forth, give over, give up, grant, hang, hang up, lay, lay to charge, lay up, leave, lend, let, let out, lift up, make, O that, occupy, offer, ordain, pay, perform, place, pour, print, put, put forth, recompense, render, requite, restore, send, send out, set, set forth, shew, shoot forth, shoot up, strike, suffer, thrust, trade, turn, utter, would God, yield; besides seventeen varieties in idiomatic renderings=84!

ASAH, 'to do,' (in Kal) by: to accomplish, advance, appoint, to be at, bear, bestow, bring forth, bring to pass, bruise, be busy, have charge, commit, deal, deal with, deck, do, dress, execute, exercise, fashion, finish, fit, fulfill, furnish, gather, get, go about, govern, grant, hold, keep, labor, maintain, make ready, make, observe, offer, pare, perform, practice, prepare, procure, provide, put, require, sacrifice, serve, set, shew, spend, take, trim, work, yield; besides twenty idiomatic renderings=74!

DABAR, 'a word,' is rendered by: act, advice, affair, answer, anything, book, business, care, case, cause, certain rate, commandment, communication, counsel decree, deed, due, duty, effect, errant, hurt, language, manner, matter, message, oracle, ought, parts, pertaining, portion, promise, provision, purpose, question, rate, reason, report, request, sake, saying, sentence, something to say, speech, talk, task, thing, thought, tidings, what, wherewith, whit, word, work; besides thirty-one idiomatic renderings=84!

PANIM, 'face,' is rendered by: afore, afore-time, against, anger, at, because of, before, before-time, countenance, edge, face, favour, fear of, for, forefront, forepart, form, former time, forward, from, front, heaviness, it, as long as, looks, mouth, of, off, of old, old time, open, over-against, person, presence, prospect, was purposed, by reason of, right forth, sight, state, straight, through, till, time past, times past, to, toward, unto, upon, upside, with, within; besides forty-two idiomatic renderings=94!

SUM or SIM, 'to set,' is (in Kal) rendered by: appoint, bring, care, cast in, change, charge, commit, consider, convey, determine, dispose, do, get, give, heap up, hold, impute, be laid, lay, lay down, lay up, leave, look, be made, make, make out, mark, ordain, order, place, be placed, preserve, purpose, put, put on, rehearse, reward, set, cause to be set set on, set up, shew, take, turn, work; besides fourteen idiomatic renderings=59!

SHUB, (in Hiphil) 'to turn back,' is rendered by: to answer, cause to answer, bring, bring back, bring again, bring home again, carry back, carry again, convert, deliver, deliver again, draw back, fetch home again, give again, hinder, let, pull in again, put, put again, put up again, recall, recompense, recover, refresh, relieve, render, render again, be rendered, requite, rescue, restore, retrieve, return, cause to return, make to return, reverse reward, send back, set again, take back, take off, turn away, turn back, cause to turn, make to turn, withdraw; besides fifteen idiomatic renderings=60!

NASAH, 'to lift up,' is (in Kal) rendered by: accept, arise, able to bear, bear up, be borne, bring, bring forth, burn, be burned, carry, carry away, cast, contain, ease, exact, exalt, fetch, forgive, go on, hold up, lade, be laid, lay, lift up, pluck up, marry, obtain, offer, pardon, raise, raise up, receive, regard, respect, set, set up, spare, stir up, suffer, take, take away, take up, wear, yield; besides four idiomatic renderings=46!

OBAR, 'to pass over,' is (in Kal) rendered by: to alienate, be altered, come, come over, come on, be delivered, enter, escape, fail, get over, go, go away, go beyond, go by, go forth, go his way, go in, go on, go over, go through, be gone, have more, overcome, overpass, overpast, overrun, pass, pass along, pass away, pass beyond, pass by, pass on, pass out, pass over, pass through, give passage, be past, perish, transgress; besides three idiomatic renderings=42!

RAB, 'many, much,' is rendered by: abound, abundance, abundant, captain, elder, common, enough, exceedingly, full, great, great multitude, great man, great one, greatly, increase, long, long enough, manifold, many, many a time, so many, have many many things, master, mighty, more, much, too much, very much, multiply, multitude, officer, plenteous, populous, prince, suffice, sufficient; besides seven idiomatic renderings=44!

TOB, 'good,' is rendered, by: beautiful, best, better, bountiful, cheerful, at ease, fair, fair word, to favour, be in favour, fine, glad, good, good deed, goodlier, goodliest, goodly, goodness, goods, graciously, joyful, kindly, kindness, liketh, liketh best, loving, merry, pleasant, pleasure, precious, prosperity, ready, sweet, wealth, welfare, well, to be well; besides four idiomatic renderings=41!

It would be easy to multiply examples of lax renderings did space permit. The following are some that have been marked; e.g. Ahad by 23, Altar 25, Ish 31, Al 36, Im 23, Amar 37, Aphes 23, Asher 27, Bo 32, Bin 20, Ben 20, Gam 20, Halak 36, Ze 21, Hul 27, Hazak 23, Hai 22, Hayil 26, Tob 37, Jad 36, Jada 36, Yom 32, Hatib 28, Yalak 24, Jatza 37, Ysh 31, Yashab 20, Ki 36, Kol 20, Kalah 21, Lakah 20, Meod 21, Moed 20, Matza 22, Maneh 20, Mishpat 27, Natah 21, Naphal 20, Nephesh 35, Sabab 20, Ad 22, Oud 26, Oulam 24, Al 34, Alah 37, Im 21, Amad 23, Anah 20, Arak 20, Pe 29, Panah 20, Pagod 25, Qum 27, Qarah 24, Raah 32, Rosh 21, Hirbah 30, Ra 37, Shub 35, Shalom 28, Shillah 27, Shillet 20, Shama 20.

Chronological Order of the Books of the Old and New Covenants.

B.C.                                         B.C.
1491 Genesis                                 787 Amos
     Job                                     750 Micah
1491 Exodus                                  740 Hosea
1490 Leviticus                               713 Nahum
1451 Numbers                                 698 Isaiah
1451 Deuteronomy                             630 Zephaniah
1427 Joshua                                  626 Habakkuk
1406 Judges                                  623 Second Chronicles, X. to the end.
1312 Ruth                                    590 Second Kings
1055 First Samuel                            588 Jeremiah
1018 Second Samuel                           588 Lamentations
1015 First Chronicles                        587 Obadiah
     Psalms                                  574 Ezekiel
1013 Song of Solomon                         534 Daniel
1004 First Kings, I.—XI.                     520 Haggai
1004 Second Chronicles, I.—IX.               520 Zechariah
1000 Proverbs                                509 Esther
 975 Ecclesiastes                            457 Ezra
 897 First Kings, XII. etc.                  434 Nehemiah
 862 Jonah                                   397 Malachi.
 800 Joel

A.D.                                         A.D.
38 Matthew - - - - - - Judea                 64 Acts  - - - - - Greece
52 Galatians - - - - - Corinth or Macedonia  64 1st Timotheus - Macedonia
52 1st Thessalonians - Corinth               64 1st Peter - - - Rome
52 2d Thessalonians  - Corinth               64 Titus - - - - Macedonia or Greek
56 1st Corinthians - - Ephesus               65 Mark  - - - - - Rome
57 2d Corinthians  - - Macedonia             65 2d Timotheus  - Rome
58 Romans  - - - - - - Corinth               65 2d Peter  - - - Rome
61 Ephesians - - - - - Rome                  69 1st John  - - - Judea
61 James - - - - - - - Jerusalem             69 2d John - - - - Ephesus
62 Philippians - - - - Rome                  69 3d John - - - - Ephesus
62 Colossians  - - - - Rome                  70 Jude  - - - - - Unknown
62 Philemon  - - - - - Rome                  96 Revelation  - - Patmos
63 Luke  - - - - - - - Greece                97 John  - - - - - Asia Minor.
63 Hebrews - - - - - - Rome

Explanation of 100 Bible Terms.

There cannot be the slightest doubt in the mind of any reflecting person but that a much greater amount of error in reference to the truths of the Word of God arises from simple ignorance or inattention than from any other worse cause whatever. Words, in the course of time, lose their original meaning, and acquire a conventional one very often considerably different, and which, from constant use, becomes little more than the shibboleth of a party. Very many are accustomed to use Scripture language without at all being able to understand its real meaning, and thus they are rather injured than benefited by their familiarity with Scripture phraseology. The following are only a selection and specimen of what a variety of words may be illustrated from presenting their primitive idea:

For accursed   read devoted,    everywhere in S.S.
... alms        ... kind act,        ...      N.T.
... angel       ... messenger,       ...      S.S.
... atonement   ... covering.        ...      ...
... Beelzebub   ... Beelzeboul.      ...      N.T.
... Belial      ... Beliar,          ...      ...
... betray      ... deliver up,      ...      ...
... bishop      ... overseer,        ...      ...
... blasphemy   ... evil speaking,   ...      ...
... blessed     ... happy,      very often in S.S.
... bondage     ... service,    everywhere in ...
... book        ... roll,            ...      N.T.
... bottle      ... skin,            ...      ...
... Canaanite   ... Cana-nite,   (Mat. 10.4; Mark
... charity     ... love,       everywhere in N.T.
... children    ... sons,       very often in S.S.
... chosen      ... choice one,      ...      N.T.
... Christ      ... [the] Christ,    ...      ...
... church      ... assembly,   everywhere in S.S.
... condemn     ... judge,      very often in N.T.
... create      ... prepare,         ...      ...
... damnation   ... judgment,        ...      N.T.
... deacon      ... ministrant,      ...      ...
... devil       ... false accuser,   ...      ...
... devils      ... demons,          ...      ...
... earth       ... land,            ...      S.S.
... Easter      ... Passover, (Acts 12.4.)
... elect       ... choice one, very often in S.S.
... eternal     ... age-during, everywhere in ...
... everlasting ...                  ...      ...
... for ever    ...    ...           ...      ...
... faith       ... confidence, very often in ...
... farewell    ... be strong,  everywhere in ...
... feast       ... banquet,    very often in ...
... fool        ... thoughtless,     ...      N.T.
... fornication ... whoredom,   everywhere in S.S.
... friend      ... comrade,   (Mat.11.16; 20.13;
                                22.12; 26.50.)
... Ghost       ... Spirit,     everywhere in N.T.
... God forbid  ... let it not be,   ...      ...
... godliness   ... piety,           ...      ...
... gospel      ... good news,       ...      ...
... grave       ... unseen state, very often in S.S.
... heathen     ... nations,   everywhere in  ...
... hell        ... unseen state,    ...      ...
... heresy      ... sect,            ...      N.T.
... holiness    ... separation,      ...      S.S.
... holy        ... separate,        ...      ...
... hypocrite   ... profane,         ...      O.T.
... incense     ... perfume,         ...      S.S.
... iniquity    ... lawlessness, very often in N.T.
... inn         ... guest chamber, (Mark 2.7, etc.)

For just         read right,      everywhere in S.S.
... justification ... state of being declared right.
... justify       ... declare right,   ...      ...
... kingdom       ... reign,      very often in N.T.
... labourer      ... workman,         ...      ...
... lamenting     ... smiting the breast,...      ...
... lord          ... sir,             ...      ...
... lust          ... desire,     everywhere in S.S.
... Magdalene     ... the Magdalene    ...      N.T.
... master        ... teacher, rabbi, etc., very often.
... mercy         ... kindness,   very often in S.S.
... minister      ... ministrant, everywhere in N.T.
... ministry      ... ministration,    ...      ...
... offend        ... stumble,         ...      ...
... parable       ... simile,          ...      ...
... passion       ... suffering, (Acts 1.3.)
... penny         ... denary,     everywhere in N.T.
... power         ... authority,  very often in ...
... presbytery    ... eldership, (1 Tim. 4.14.)
... raka          ... empty fellow! (Mat. 5.22.)
... repent        ... have a new mind, often in N.T.
... repentance    ... a new mind       ...      ...
... righteous     ... right,      everywhere in S.S.
... righteousness ... rightness,       ...      ...
... saint         ... separate, or kind one,   often
... salvation     ... safety,     everywhere in S.S
... sanctify      ... separate,        ...      ...
... sanctification ... separation,     ...      ...
... Satan         ... Adversary,       ...      ...
... Scripture     ... Writing,         ...      ...
... ship          ... boat,       very often in N.T
... shoes         ... sandals,    everywhere in S.S
... sin           ... lit. a missing of the mark.
... sinner        ... lit. one who misses the mark.
... sitting       ... reclining,  very often in N.T.
... streets       ... out-places, broad-places,
                                  everywhere in S.S
... tares         ... darnel,          ...      N.T
... temple        ... sanctuary,  very often in ...
... temptation    ... trial,           ...      S.S
... testament     ... covenant,   everywhere in ...
... thief         ... robber,     very often in N.T.
... take no thought, be not anxious,     everywhere.
... unleavened        unleavened food,      ...
      bread       ...
... uppermost         highest couches, (Mat. 23.6
      rooms       ...   Mark 2.39; Luke 11.43.)
... virtue        ... worthiness, everywhere in S.S
... visit             inspect, look after.
... wicked        ... lit. one in the wrong, every
                                       where in S.S
... world         ... age,        very often in ...
... worship       ... obeisance,  everywhere in ...

Preface to the Revised Edition

THE following Translation of the New Testament is based upon the belief that every word of the original is “God-breathed,” as the Apostle Paul says in his Second Epistle to Timothy, chap. 3.16. That language is, indeed, applicable, in the first place, only to the Writings of the “Old Testament,” in which Timothy had been instructed, but as the Apostle Peter, in his Second Epistle, chap. 3.15, 16, expressly ranks the “Epistles” of his beloved brother Paul along with “the other Scriptures,” as the “Gospels” and the “Acts” of the Apostles were undoubtedly written before the date of Peter's writing, by men to whom the Saviour promised and gave the Holy Spirit, to guide them to all truth, to teach them all things, and to remind them of all things that Jesus said and did, there can be no reasonable ground for denying the inspiration of the New Testament by any one who holds that of the Old, or who is willing to take the plain unsophisticated meaning of God's Word regarding either.

This inspiration extends only to the original text, as it came from the pens of the writers, not to any translations ever made by man, however aged, venerable, or good; and only in so far as any of these adhere to the original—neither adding to nor omitting from it one particle—are they of any real value, for, to the extent that they vary from the original, the doctrine of verbal inspiration is lost, so far as that version is concerned.

If a translation gives a present tense when the original gives a past, or a past when it has a present; a perfect for a future, or a future for a perfect; an a for a the, or a the for an a; an imperative for a subjunctive, or a subjunctive for an imperative; a verb for a noun, or a noun for a verb, it is clear that verbal inspiration is as much overlooked as if it had no existence. THE WORD OF GOD IS MADE VOID BY THE TRADITIONS OF MEN.

A strictly literal rendering may not be so pleasant to the ear as one where the apparent sense is chiefly aimed at, yet it is not euphony but truth that ought to be sought, and where in such a version as the one commonly in use in this country, there are scarcely two consecutive verses where there is not some departure from the original such as those indicated, and where these variations may be counted by tens of thousands, as admitted on all hands, it is difficult to see how verbal inspiration can be of the least practical use to those who depend upon that version alone.

Modern scholarship is beginning to be alive to the inconsistency of thus gratuitously obscuring, and really changing, the meaning, of the sacred writers by subjective notions of what they ought to have written, rather than what they did write, for if we admit that in a single case it can be lawful to render a past tense by a present, where shall we end? who is to be judge? if we do so in one passage, to bring out what may appear to us might, could, would, or should, be the Scriptural meaning, we cannot deny the same privilege to others who may twist other passages in like manner. The alteration of an a for a the may appear a small matter not worth speaking of, but an attentive comparison of the following Translation with the common one will discover numerous passages where the entire force of the verse depends upon the insertion or non-insertion of the article.

For example, in Mat. 2.4, Herod is represented as enquiring “where Christ ' should be born. But “Christ” is the surname of the man Jesus, who was quite unknown to Herod, who could not consequently ask for a person of whose existence he was ignorant. The true explanation is, that King James' Translators omitted the definite article which occurs in the original. The correct translation is, where “the Christ” should be born. Herod knew of “the Christ,” the Messiah, the long promised Saviour and King of the Jews, and his enquiry was, where He was to be born, whose kingdom was to be over all. The simple article clears up the whole. There are about two thousand instances in the New Testament where these translators have thus omitted all notice of the definite article, not to say any thing of the great number of passages where they have inserted it, though not in the original.

The following translation need not, and ought not, to be considered, in any sense, as coming into competition with the Common Version, but as one to be used in connection with it, and as auxiliary to it; and not a few assurances have been received from clergymen and others that they thus use it, and find it at once interesting and profitable. The change of a single word, or collocation of words, is often found to throw an entirely new shade of meaning over the Scripture. This advantage is well known to all who have compared the various ancient versions, or even the English versions that successively formed what was popularly called “the authorized version,” i.e., Tyndale, Coverdale, Geneva, Bishops, etc.

The Greek Text followed is that generally recognized as the “Received Text,” not because it is thought perfect, but because the department of Translation is quite distinct from that of Textual Criticism, and few are qualified for both. If the original text be altered by a translator, (except he give his reasons for and against each emendation,) the reader is left in uncertainty whether the translation given is to be considered as that of the old or of the new reading. And, after all, the differences in sense to be found in the 100,000 various Greek readings are so trifling compared with those to be derived from an exact translation of the Received Text, that the writer willingly leaves them to other hands; at the same time, it is contemplated, in a future edition, to give, in an Appendix, all the various readings of the Greek MSS. that are capable of being expressed in English.

With grateful thanks to the Father of Lights, this revised edition is presented to the friends of Divine Truth, with the hope that it may be a means, in the hands of the Divine Spirit, of quickening their faith, and encouraging their hearts, in the work of the Lord.

—Robert Young, LL.D.

Supporting Articles and Principles of Translation*

The So-Called We-Qatal Conjugation in Biblical Hebrew Once Again by Bo Isaksson

The BH Weqatal: A Homogenous Form With No Haphazard Functions (Part I) by Alexander Andrason

The BH Weqatal: A Homogenous Form With No Haphazard Functions (Part II) by Alexander Andrason

Biblical Hebrew Wayyiqtol: A Dynamic Definition by Alexander Andrason

Wayyiqtol: An Unlikely Preterite by Elizabeth Robar

A New Understanding of the Verbal System of Classical Hebrew: An Attempt to Distinguish between Semantic and Pragmatic Factors by Rolf Furuli

The Finite Verbal Forms in Biblical Hebrew Do Express Aspect by John A. Cook

On Words, Meaning, Inspiration, and Translation: A Brief Response to Bill Mounce by Dane Ortlund

Against the Theory of ‘Dynamic Equivalence’ by Michael Marlowe

*The LSV's translation team does not necessarily endorse all of the arguments made or principles stated in these works.