We know that the Word of God is holy and inspired. It should be our desire to study the Bible in its original context and meanings. So, let’s take a quick look at a few examples of how the Bible has changed in translation. Could it be that some meanings are lost from the original meaning? The Bible has generally been translated with a Greco-Roman mindset and in the process some of the meanings in the Hebrew text have been lost.
Here are a couple examples:
Name Changing – When the names are changed from their original Hebrew they loose their powerful meaning because the meaningful letters have changed. The most powerful example being Yeshua himself. The name Jesus lost it’s meaning. Why not name him Fred or Alexander? When seen in the Hebrew; however, His name means Salvation. Other words are changed too like execution stake to cross or Messianic community to church. These Christian buzz words give different meanings than the original language.
Names in scripture are very important, hence the length geneology records. These names have meaning and hence are important. An example of this is the geneology presented in Genesis 5 from Adam to Noach. For the Hebrew meanings, please reference – http://www.khouse.org/articles/2000/284/
Spiritual meanings of names are also important.
Abram and Sari’s names were also changed by God. In doing this, God added the Hebrew letter “hey” to each of their names to show that they have come out of Him. The Hebrew meaning of the letter “hey” also includes “revelation” or “behold.” Perhaps God is telling us that the lives of Abraham and Sarah are prophetic in scripture and we can know a lot from studying their lives? We can know the end from the beginning now!
It is also relevant that the Hebrew name for the book of Exodus is pronounced “Shemot” and means the names. As with all of the Hebrew names of the books of the Torah, this word – “Shemot” occurs within the first verse. Chapter 1 lists the names of the sons of Isreal who came into Egypt with Jacob. There is much to be learned from studying the names, their character, and their adventures.
Similarly, the names of places have lost their meaning. For instance, Bethlehem, the birthplace of Yeshua is pronounced “Beit Lechem” and means house of bread. It is no wonder that Yeshua called Himself the Bread of Life (John 6).
Idioms – Yeshua says on the sermon on the mount “If your eye be evil, your whole body will be dark.” Evil eye in many cultures means casting spells but in the original Hebrew word (‘ayin ra’ah), evil eye simply means being stingy. Therefore a good eye means being generous. Yeshua is reminding people to be generous!
Unfortunately, the Bible translators were heavily influenced from Christian anti-semetism even if they weren’t anti-semetic themselves. As a result most of the Jewishness of the Bible has been watered down. Much is missing in standard English Bible translations, because the translator did not take into account cultural aspects for the time period. Yeshua was a Jew who kept the Torah. We should study what day-to-day life was like when He was alive. This will help us better understand His difficult sayings.
Cultural Changes – In Mattityahu (Matthew) 9:20 the woman subject to bleeding reached out to touch the fringe or edge of Yeshua’s robe. The fringe or edge is the “tzitzit” that people were instructed to wear on the edges of their garments in the Torah. Another example is in Acts 20:7 where it states the believers met on “the first day of the week”. This in fact was on Saturday night (not Sunday), or the going-out of the Sabbath to keep with the tradition of the Biblical way of organizing the calendar. The Sabbath cycle was well established by God in Genesis and will remain in-place throughout eternity. God instructs us to “Remember the Sabbath and keep it Holy (Kadosh or set apart) – Exodus 20.
Changing the names of people, places, and things causes meanings to be lost. Cultural heritage is left behind and the full powerful meaning is left to just a fragment of what the authors meant. The original Hebrew scrolls were written in Hebrew and Biblical life took place in Hebraic society. We would do well to study this language and culture to better understand God’s message for us. Certainly, if you were preparing to get married in the near future, you would seek to learn the native language of your future spouse. Similarly, God has many messages for us that he wants to convey, but we must be able to “Shema” – listen and obey in His language.