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Is Strong's Dictionary enough for studying the Hebrew text of the Bible?



For those who do not know Hebrew, the only tool available for studying the Hebrew text of the Bible is Strong's Hebrew Dictionary. While this dictionary is a valuable resource, it has many limitations.

In the King James Version of Exodus 3:16 we read, "The LORD God of your fathers... appeared unto me..." A person might read this and ask, "How can the LORD 'appear' to someone when he has no form?" This person then takes out his Strong's Dictionary and looks up the word "appear" in this verse and finds the following entry.

H7200 ראה râ'âh
Translations - see 879, look 104, behold 83, shew 68, appear 66, consider 22, seer 12, spy 6, respect 5, perceive 5, provide 4, regard 4, enjoy 4, lo 3, foreseeth 2, heed 2, misc 74; 1313

The reader then sees that the Hebrew word ra'ah, Strong's #H7200, means "see" and "look." Armed with this bit of "knowledge," the reader then retranslates this verse as, "And the LORD God of your fathers... looked unto me..." and then says, "ah-ha, the LORD didn't 'appear' to him, the LORD 'saw' him." But to confirm his theory, he goes back a few verses and reads Exodus 3:4, "And when the LORD saw that he turned aside..." Taking out his trusty Strong's Dictionary he looks up the word "saw" and finds the following entry.

H7200 ראה râ'âh
Translations - see 879, look 104, behold 83, shew 68, appear 66, consider 22, seer 12, spy 6, respect 5, perceive 5, provide 4, regard 4, enjoy 4, lo 3, foreseeth 2, heed 2, misc 74; 1313

He then says, "There it is, the Hebrew word translated as 'saw' is the very same Hebrew word ra'ah!"

Have you ever heard the expression, "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing?" Well, this applies in this situation. What this reader is not aware of, is that Hebrew verbs can take on different forms and these forms are not identified in Strong's Dictionary. In Exodus 3:4 the Hebrew verb ra'ah is written וירא (vai'yar), which is the simple form of the verb and means "and he saw." But in Exodus 3:16 it is written as נראה (nir'ah), which is the passive form of the verb and means "and he was seen" or "and he appeared." According to the verb form of this Hebrew word in Exodus 3:16, the LORD is not the one "seeing," he is the one that "was seen."

All of the resources available for going into this depth of Hebrew study require the reader to have at least a basic knowledge of Hebrew, shutting out all those who wish to go deeper into the text, but are unable to do so. That is until now. The Mechanical Translation is designed to provide the reader who has no background in Hebrew the ability to study the Hebrew language at this depth.

The following is the Mechanical Translation of the word "see" in Exodus 3:4.

and~he~will~SEE

Now the Mechanical Translation of the word "appear" in Exodus 3:16.

he~did~be~SEE

The word "be" in this translation indicates to the reader that this verb is in the passive form. Whenever a verb is written in the passive form, the word "be" will be there before the verb; whenever a verb is written in the causative form, the word "make" will be there; and whenever a verb is written in the reflexive form, the word "self" will be there. Now the reader has the ability to view the Hebrew text without even knowing how to read Hebrew.







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