Today I was reading the Torah portion for the new week. It begins in Genesis 37 and is the beginning of the story of Joseph. Naturally there the part about the robe that Joseph was given by his father, Jacob (Israel).
To make it easy to follow the Torah readings for the week I have chosen to use the Complete Jewish Bible. I have found that it has a better translation of Hebrew words. The Compete Jewish Study Bible adds study notes for clarification.
I began reading and read verse three. In the CJB this is what it said,
“Now Isra’el loved Yosef the most of all his children, because he was the son of his old age; and he made him a long-sleeved robe.”
B'resheet (Gen) 37:3 CJB
This version said a “long-sleeved robe.” I clearly remember learning that Joseph was given a “coat of many colors,” so I decided to read the KJV and NIV. The KJV says’ “coat of many colors.” The NIV says, “richly ornamented” and has a note at the bottom that says, “the meaning of the Hebrew for richly ornamented is uncertain.”
I don't want to quibble over something that seems minor. Some may say, “who really cares if it was colorful or just a long sleeved robe. Does it really matter?” I'm sure many might say I'm just being silly to even mention it. However, here is another example.
In Job 39:9 the KJV says, “will the unicorn be willing to serve thee…” Unicorn? In the Bible? I read today that this causes some people to believe the Bible is a fairytale because how can it be real if there are unicorns mentioned?
The NIV says, “will the wild ox…” The CJB also says a wild ox. I would say that is a big difference. Unicorn to a wild ox? Now, maybe there was an animal back in the day that did have a horn on its head, was large like a wild ox, and looked totally different than our fantasy unicorns today. However, to just hold to this KJV interpretation and say that the Bible isn't true because it has unicorns in it and not research deeper for a better translation, or to hold to the fact that unicorns as we know them today are real because the Bible says they are… those are extremes that we must be careful to acknowledge. Too often we just read and accept what has been written.
My reason for bringing it up is this; if the KJV (which most of us grew up reading) can so easily make a stretch to say “colorful,” or “unicorn,”when the word does not mean that, in what other areas did they also choose to stretch the meaning of a word? And, have other translations done the same thing? The NIV acknowledges that the word “richly ornamented” meaning is uncertain. That is at least a start to say, “we really are not sure.” But, even in that, how many people take time to read the tiny note at the bottom? I did not do that too often as a teen.
My question than today is, “in how many other areas have we been misled to think something different than what the authors really intended? By simple translation errors in the past, we have been given misinterpretations of the Bible. This has led to issues that have walked us away from the original intent of God’s heart. If it happens in the small things, why couldn't it happen in larger areas?
TBG strives to bring back the original intent of what God desires. By living in Israel for many years; and now being in Cyprus, and traveling to Greece, we are doing our best to understand the culture and dig deep into what Jesus and Paul were really saying. We need to understand the Hebrew of the Old Testament and ask God to show us the hidden things in His Word. We have the Holy Spirit to guide us. We just have to ask and seek.