I credit my mother for giving me a great love of the Bible. I fondly remember the Bible stories she read to me when I was a kid. I read it on my own at an early age. As I grew older, I thought it would be great to learn Hebrew and Greek. At the time, I really did not anticipate a time in my life when this would happen, but many years later, I decided to go to Bible College and it was required to learn both Hebrew and Greek. I was excited about this. I also had the opportunity to learn Aramaic and so I learned all three of the biblical languages.
Learning the languages has opened up the Bible to me so much more than I could ever imagine. There are just things that are easy to miss if one only has a translation. Nothing can really compare to the original languages. One of the most important verses in the Scriptures about the Abrahamic Covenant has a bit of a twist if looked at in the Hebrew. In the NASB translation, Genesis 12:3 says, “And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse….” What is missed in the English is that there are two different words for curse.
When God says He will curse, it is the word aw-rar‘. According to the Strong’s concordance, it means to bitterly curse. The second word that is translated as curse is kaw-lal’ and the word is not as strong as the first word. It is not always translated as curse. A basic meaning is to treat lightly or despise according to the Strong’s concordance. I was fascinated when I first saw this difference because it really does make the verse clearer. It is saying that God will bitterly curse those who make light of or despise His people, the Jewish people. The pattern is clear in the Scriptures. God not only punished anyone who would mistreat Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but the nation of Israel as well. Egypt is a good example of how God cursed those who mistreated the Jewish people.
Now that I have shown an example in the Hebrew Scriptures, I would like to look at one in the New Testament. It is in the book of John when Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him. This is in John 21:15-17. Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him (ag-ap-ah’-o) and Peter answered that he loved (fil-eh’-o) Him. This happened a second time and the third time Jesus asked Peter if he loved (fil-eh’-o) Him. In Greek, there are multiple words for love. Ag-ap-ah’-o is more of a sincere love as opposed to fil-eh’-o, which speaks more to an affinity. In the Scriptures husbands are called on to ag-ap-ah’-o their wives (Eph 5:25). Without knowing the Greek, one cannot notice these nuisances. Personally, I find it much more exciting to discover things for myself than for someone to preach to me from the pulpit about such things.
Aramaic is not used as much in the Scriptures, but a good part of Daniel is written in Aramaic and it gives a greater understanding of Daniel, which is such a key book in the Scriptures. There are also random Aramaic words throughout the Scriptures. The examples I have included here are just the beginning of what can be discovered in the Scriptures when studying them in the original languages. I would encourage anyone with a real love and passion for the Bible to learn even one of the languages to enhance their study of the Word of God.
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