Thread Rating:
  • 0 Vote(s) - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
First draft of Idioms compendium - 12 examples
If you guys have more idioms, especially involved in contradictions and/or split words, speak up!


Semitic Idioms in the New Testament, Suggest Peshitta Primacy ??? Part 1

Compiled and edited by Christopher Lancaster and Paul Younan

An idiom, basically is an expression (though there are many more definitions. e.g. certain words/phrases specific to a language). Something we say to convey a certain thought or feeling, that does not come from the individual meanings of the words. For example, some idioms in English are ???a bad egg??? (a bad person), ???blood is thicker than water??? (relatives are closer than friends) and ???they are at 6???s and 7???s??? (they are confused). Idioms in books convey a meaning that cannot be gleaned from the literal text.

Idioms appear in many books, and the Bible is no exception. Have you ever heard someone say ???the Bible doesn???t mean that literally???? They are referring to a possible idiom. Now we have a problem for Greek primacy (the belief that the New Testament was written in Greek). The New Testament is lacking in Greek idioms and is filled with Aramaic idioms! Sometimes the idioms are translated literally, and sometimes, they are translated idiomatically. In fact, many contradictions are caused in the Greek New Testament, by literal translation of the Aramaic idioms. When the original Aramaic New Testament was translated into Greek, the translators should have
Given explanations of the Aramaic idioms. This would have saved lots of headaches (and in some cases, people???s lives) over alleged contradictions (an understanding of the original Aramaic New Testament, and it???s many idioms, are invaluable in Christian apologetics) in the New Testament.

Have a look for yourself, how the so-called Greek Bible is filled with Aramaic idioms!

1. Pick up snakes ??? Mark 16:18

I chose this as the first example, as it deals with a literal life and death issue.

The KJV says: ???They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.???

???They translated many Eastern idioms and metaphors literally, not knowing their true meaning. For instance, ???You shall handle snakes.??? They did not know that the word ???snake??? refers to ???an enemy.?????? ??? Dr. George Mamishisho Lamsa

A better reading for that section of the verse would be ???they will handle their enemies???. This mistranslation has even cost the lives of many people. George Went Hensley, a former pastor of the Church of God, formed one such Pentecostal group, who drank poison and exposed themselves to poisonous snakes. He died of snakebite, as have many others.

2. Cut it off and pluck it out ??? Mark 9:43-47

Note: This example is also solves the possible contradiction with 1Corinthians 6:19-20 (What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God???s.). One section in the Greek tells you to glorify God with your body, as it is the temple of the Holy Spirit, and another commands self-mutilation!

The KJV says: ???And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire:???

???Even today these ancient Christians, Lamsa's people (Assyrians), understand what Jesus meant when he said, "If your hand offends you, cut it off; if your eye offends you, pluck it out; if your foot offends you, cut it off". Jesus meant: "If you have a habit of stealing, stop it". "If you have a habit of envying, stop it". "If you have a habit of trespassing on other's property, stop it". These sayings are understood because these idioms have been in general use throughout the centuries. The idioms arise out of the fact the Aramaic collapses into one word, both mental and physical action, with either or both meanings acceptable.

This explains why no Christian in the East has ever cut off his arm or plucked out his eyes. None of Jesus' disciples and his followers amputated parts of their bodies. They used the mental meaning. In other parts of the world many Christians who misunderstood the Aramaic idiom, have cut off hands, fingers and feet, or inflicted other injuries upon their bodies to follow the misunderstood injunction of Jesus.??? ??? Aramaic Bible Society

3. Eyes of your heart ??? Ephesians 1:18

This is also an example of a split word, and can be found (with greater detail) in the 2nd split word article of this series.

The NIV says: ???I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,???

The KJV says: ???The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,???

Now, it just so happens that the Aramaic phrase Jwktwbld 0ny9 is an idiom, and as such, can have a literal translation, and a meaningful translation.

???Many times we have spoken of the Semitic understanding of the heart, that it is the idiomatic organ of understanding and knowledge.

In Ephesians 1:18, Paul uses this Semiticism:
Jwktwbld 0ny9 (Ayna d'Lebwatkon - "the eye of your hearts")

[The Alexandrian manuscripts (including Tischendorf, Westcott & Hort and Nestle-Aland) tend to literally retain this Aramaic idiom, while the Byzantine texts give a meaningful translation. ??? Chris]

This clearly demonstrates that Zorba sometimes understood that Paul was using an Aramaic idiom, and chose to liberally translate the meaning into a more acceptable solution in Greek thought.??? ??? Paul Younan

And this, in a letter, written apparently to Greeks! It seems that it was written to SEMITES, in Greece.

Note: Once again, ???Zorba??? refers to the people who translated the Aramaic New Testament into Greek. It???s just easier to say ???Zorba???.

4. Son of peace ??? Luke 10:6

The KJV says: ???And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: if not, it shall turn to you again.???

???The Aramaic "Bar Shlama" literally means "son of peace", but idiomatically this is an expression which means "harmony" or "agreement," in other words, the opposite of contention.

But since the Greek literally translates "son of peace", this is evidence that it was translated from an Aramaic original. Zorba rendered the phrase literally because he did not understand its idiomatic meaning.??? ??? Paul Younan

5. Bowels of Jesus ??? Philippians 1:8, 2:1 / Colossians 3:12 / Philemon 7, 12, 20 / 1John 3:17 / 2Corinthians 6:12

This is also an example of a split word, and can be found (with greater detail) in the 2nd split word article of this series.

This example is not really a split word, more of a ???pseudo split word???, as the variant in question (at least to my knowledge) does not occur in the Greek (just about all Greek versions read ???bowels???). It does occur though in the English versions. The Byzantine versions tend to say ???bowels???, while the Alexandrian versions tend to say ???love???. That the variant is caused by differing translations of an Aramaic idiom, is indicative of an Aramaic original, undermining the Greek.

However, this example is quite amazing, as it runs throughout many New Testament books, and is evidence of Aramaic originality to letters sent to Christians in Greek cities! It also is an example of where an idiom is translated literally in some versions, and meaningfully in others. This phenomenon occurs in many verses, but for simplicity, we shall discuss only Philippians 1:8.

The KJV says: ???For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ.???

The NIV says: ???God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.???

Now, it just so happens that the Aramaic root Mxr can be meant literally or as part of an idiom.

???CAL Outline Lexicon: GENERAL rxm
rxm N rxm)
1 passim friend
LS2 724
LS2 v: rAxmA)
rxm#2 N rxm)
1 Syr womb
2 Syr intestines
3 Syr genitals
4 Syr mercy > rxmyn
5 Syr love
LS2 724
LS2 v: raxmA)
abs. voc: rxem
rxm V
011 passim to love
012 Syr to have pity on
013 Syr to desire
013 JLAGal,JLATg to like s.t.
014 Syr to prefer
041 Syr to be loved
042 Syr to obtain mercy
043 Syr to be moderated
021 JLAGal,JLATg,Syr,JBA w.%(l% to have mercy
022 Syr to strive for mercy
023 JBA to love
024 JBA to give suck
051 JLAGal,Syr to be pitied
031 Syr to have pity
032 Syr to make to love
033 Syr to make beloved
LS2 723??? ??? Andrew Gabriel Roth

???As the heart is viewed as the seat of the intellect, the bowels are viewed as the seat of compassion.??? ??? Paul Younan

6. His face was set ??? Luke 9:53

The KJV says: ???And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem.???

???In Luqa 9:53, we read the Greek with astonishment:

"....because his face was set toward Jerusalem"

Face was set toward Jerusalem? What does that mean in Greek?

In Semitic idiom, "to set one's face..." means 'to make up one's mind', and is quite frequent in Semitic thought. Reference the following verses:

Amos 9:4
Jeremiah 3:12
Jeremiah 21:10
Jeremiah 42:15
Jeremiah 44:12
2 Kings 12:17
Daniel 11:17
Ezekiel 6:1
Ezekiel 13:17
Ezekiel 14:8
Ezekiel 15:7

Most importantly, this idiom is present in the commentary portion of Luqa. The idiom is also present in verse 51.??? ??? Paul Younan

7. Their phylacteries and borders ??? Matthew 23:5

The KJV says: ???But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments,???

???Has anybody compared the Greek and Peshitta of Matti 23:5?


"thier phylacteries"

[font=Estrangelo (V1.1)]Nwhylpt [/font]
"their tefillin"

From 2nd Temple period times to this day, 'Tefillin' is the proper (and only) term. The Peshitta text assumes the reader has a good knowledge and vocabulary of Jewish orthodoxy.


"the borders of their garments"

Nwhy=w=rmd Flkt

"the tekhelet of their garments"

'Tekhelet' is the correct Biblical term here, the name for the actual blue strand in the 'tzitzit', or fringes.

Numbers 15:38 (KJV) Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes (Heb. tzitzit) in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribband of blue (tekhelet)

The Peshitta assumes intimacy with Jewish custom and vocabulary, and is a much more specific a term than the general Greek word meaning 'edge, border, skirt, or hem'.

Is this evidence of Peshitta primacy in Matthew? Are translations ever more specific than the original???? ??? Rob Vanhoff

8. Who shall declare his generation? ??? Acts 8:33

The KJV says: ???In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth.???

???"Who will declare his generation?" is an idiom meaning roughly in English "His line was cut off". In other words, Meshikha has no living relatives or descendants....and that's the context of the passage being quoted in Isaiah.

In Semitic thought, "generation" is inextricably linked with genetic line, offspring. It's not like the English which means only an "age" or "period of time." When Mattai and Luqa recorded the geneaology of Meshikha, it stopped with him. There is no one after him, and no one today is related to him. This is the meaning of the Isaiah's prophecy - "who will speak of his descendants (generations) ?" [Isaiah 53:8 ??? Chris]. Isaiah teaches us that the Messiah would be "cut off" without any descendents or line of "generations".??? ??? Paul Younan

9. Pressed in the spirit ??? Acts 18:5

The KJV says: ???And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ.???

Note: Some translators of the Peshitta New Testament, into English, are Dr. George Mamishisho Lamsa, James Murdock and John Wesley Etheridge.

???Our friend Zorba failed to translate a certain phrase in Acts 18:5 idiomatically.

Acts 18:5: ως <5613> ( AND) δε <1161> ( WHEN) κατηλθον <2718> <5627> ( CAME DOWN) απο <575> της <3588> ( FROM) μακεδονιας <3109> ο <3588> ( MACEDONIA) τε <5037> ( BOTH) σιλας <4609> ( SILAS) και <2532> ο <3588> ( AND) τιμοθεος <5095> ( TIMOTHY) συνειχετο <4912> <5712> τω <3588> ( WAS PRESSED) πνευματι <4151> ο <3588> ( IN SPIRIT) παυλος <3972> ( PAUL) διαμαρτυρομενος <1263> <5740> ( EARNESTLY TESTIFYING) τοις <3588> ( TO THE) ιουδαιοις <2453> ( JEWSTO BE) τον <3588> ( THE) χριστον <5547> ( CHRIST) ιησουν <2424> ( JESUS.)
(Interlinear Greek NT)

5And when Silas and Timothy had come from Macedonia, Paul was impeded in discourse, because the Jews stood up against him, and reviled, as he testified to them that Jesus is the Messiah. (James Murdock)

And when from Makedunia Shilo and Timotheos had come, Paulos was constrained in his speech, because the Jihudoyee arose against him and blasphemed, while he testified to them that Jeshu is the Meshiha. (John Wesley Etheridge)

And when Silas and Timotheus came from Macedonia, Paul felt he was not free to speak, because the Jews opposed him and blasphemed as he testified that Jesus is the Christ. (George Lamsa)??? ??? Larry Kelsey

The Textus Receptus has ???pressed in the spirit???, while Alexandrian texts such as Westcott-Hort and Nestle-Aland, have ???pressed in the word???. This is not just a Semitic idiom then, it is also a split word!

10. Son of it???s hour ??? Matthew 13:5

The KJV says: ???Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth:???

???Here's another idiom that is strange to the Western mind found in Matti 13:5. This is taken from John Wesley Etheridge's work at

"Another (portion) fell upon the rock, where there was not much soil; and immediately ??? it sprung up, because there was no depth of earth."
??? Bar-shoteh, " the son of its hour."??? ??? Larry Kelsey

11. High mountain ??? Matthew 4:8 / Luke 4:5

The KJV says (Matthew 4:8): ???Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;???

The KJV says (Luke 4:5): ???And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.???

???The term 'high mountain' is used figuratively. It means the high point in human physical aspiration. This temptation was a far greater one than the previous two. This is because the devil, deception, negative thought-anything contrary to the truth-offered Jesus the greatest rewards known to man in order to beguile him, and thus divert him from his great mission. Satan here offered everything which human imagination can comprehend and embrace. It offered the kingdoms of the world and all their glory and splendor.

Satan took Jesus on a high mountain. This means he took him to the summit of his highest human imagination, and he made all these offers to him, if Jesus would but fall down and worship him. It is interesting to know that the Mount of Temptation is in a wasteland hundreds of feet below sea level. There are no kingdoms or large cities nearby, but small hamlets, sheepfolds and Arab camps. The only town close to it is the humble little town of Jericho.??? ??? Dr. George Mamishisho Lamsa

12. To go ??? John 12:11

The KJV says: ???Because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus.???

???One word that the Greek translators often misunderstood was the Hebrew word Klh
and the Aramaic word lz0 which normally mean "to go" or "to depart" but is used idiomatically in Hebrew and Aramaic to mean that some action goes forward and that something progresses "more and more". The following are several examples from the Tanak. In each of these cases the Hebrew reads Klh
and the Aramaic reads lz0 in both the Peshitta Tanak and the Targums:

And the waters returned from the earth continually???
Gen. 8:3

And the man waxed great and went forward, and grew???
Gen. 26:13

And the hand of the children of Israel grew stronger and stronger
Judges 4:24

the Philistenes went on and increased
1Sam. 14:19

but David waxed stronger and stronger
2Sam. 3:1

One case where the Greek translator misunderstood this word and translated to literally is in Jn. 12:11:
Because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away (!?!?!?!?), and believed on Jesus. (KJV)

Certainly Yochanan's intended meaning was: because many of the Judeans, on account of him, were trusting more and more lz0 in Yeshua??? ??? Dr. James Trimm

Once again, understanding of the New Testament is enhanced and corrected by going back to the original. And people say it doesn???t matter what Bible you use! Well if people dying and maiming themselves over misunderstandings of Scripture, does not matter, what does? ??? Christopher Lancaster
Shlama Akhi Chris,

This is a very nice collection! I'd like to help you with the Greek and Aramaic fonts we use on the forum, SIL Galatia and Estrangelo (V1.1) respectively.
Use the click-and-drag method to highlight a certain phrase or group of letters, then click on the box that says "Font Face" for your choice of font, then while you still have it highlighted (or re-highlight it), click on the "Font size" box and make your choice. I've had to click "Large" sometimes because for me it doesn't want to do "Huge" twice in a row for some reason, but I just run my curso beside '18', delete it and type in '24' and "Large" becomes "Huge" quick as a bunny! <!-- sSmile --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/smile.gif" alt="Smile" title="Smile" /><!-- sSmile -->
Also to accentuate a rhyming portion of an Aramaic word or whatever, you can change the font color if you'd like with that corresponding box.

Shlama w'Burkate, Larry Kelsey
Thanks man, I have proper fonts and colours on the actual file on my computer. That's why the pdfs look cool and the posts look shoddy <!-- sSmile --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/smile.gif" alt="Smile" title="Smile" /><!-- sSmile -->


For example 11, where does Lamsa's quote end, and yours begin?

Forum Jump:

Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)