Why the Hebrew and Aramaic Origin of the NT is Important
James Scott Trimm
Why is the Hebrew and Aramaic Origin of the New Testament important to us? Because there are some passages in the New Testament which do not make sense at all in Greek, but only begin to make sense when we look at them in Hebrew and Aramaic. The following are just a few examples:
And in these days prophets came from Jerusalem
to Antioch. Then one of them, named Agabus,
stood up and showed by the Spirit that there was going
to be a great famine throughout all THE WORLD,
which also happened in the days of Claudius Caesar.
Then the talmidim, each according to his ability,
determined to send relief to the brothers dwelling
IN JUDEA. This they also did, and sent it to the
elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.
Now this doesn’t make sense at all. Why would those in Antioch send relief to those dwelling IN JUDEA, if the famine was to strike all THE WORLD. They would be facing famine themselves. The solution lies in the fact that the word for “WORLD” in the Aramaic manuscripts is ERA (Strong’s #772), the Aramaic form of the Hebrew word ERETZ (Strong’s 776). This word can mean “world” (as in Proverbs. 19:4), “earth” (as in Dan. 2:35), or “land” (as in Dan. 9:15), and is often used as a euphemism for “The Land of Israel” (as in Dan. 9:6). Certainly the word here is not meant to mean “world,” but “Land of Israel.”
Mt. 26:9 = Mk. 14:3
And when Yeshua was in Bethany at the house
of Simon the leper,
As any Bible student knows, lepers were not permitted to live in the city (see Lev. 13:46). Since ancient Hebrew and Aramaic were written without vowels, there was no distinction between the Aramaic words GAR’BA (leper), and GARABA (jar maker or jar merchant). Since in this story a woman pours oil from a jar, it is apparent that Simon was a jar merchant, or jar-maker, and not a leper.
Mt. 19:12 & Acts 8:26f
….there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven’s sake….
–Mt. 19:12 NKJV
So he [Phillip] arose and went. And behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority, under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge of all her treasury, and had come to Jerusalem to worship.
–Acts 8:27 NKJV
The man in Acts 8:27 appears to be a proselyte to Judaism, since he seems to be making the Torah-required pilgrimage to Jerusalem (Deut. 16:16). The Torah however, forbids a eunuch both from becoming a proselyte Jew and from worshipping at the Temple (Deut. 23:1f). This also raises the question of why one would become a eunuch (be castrated), for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. After all, eunuchs are excluded from the assembly of Israel. The word for “eunuch” in the Aramaic manuscripts of both of these passages is M’HAIMNA, which can mean “eunuch”, but can also mean “believer”, or “faithful one”, as it clearly means here.
Mt. 19:24 = Mk. 10:25 = Luke 18:25
…it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle,
than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God.
The word for “camel” in the Aramaic manuscripts is GAMLA which can mean “camel”, but can also refer to a “large rope,” which is certainly the meaning here.
John 12:11 & 15:16
One word that the Greek translators often misunderstood, was the Aramaic word AZAL, which normally means “to go” or “to depart”, but is used idiomatically in Aramaic to mean that some action goes forward, and that something progresses “more and more”.
One case where the Greek translator misunderstood this word, and translated it
too literally, is in John 12:11:
Because that by reason of him, many of the Jews
went away (!?!), and believed on Jesus. (KJV)
Now I have translated the Aramaic of this passage as follows:
Because many of the Judeans, on account of him,
were trusting more and more (AZAL) in Yeshua.
And John 15:16:
…that ye should go and bring forth fruit…
I have translated (In the Hebraic Roots Version) from the Aramaic:
….that you also, should bear fruit more and more (AZAL)….
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