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Whenever you see one of my posts without any images, a great many of you are saying, “Oh crap, we’re going to be asked to think today”.  But actually I have made this fairly simple to follow along with, and you owe it to yourself to consider what I am about to say. It cuts right to the heart of a much bigger situation concerning the war that is currently being waged between denominations – at the expense of followers.

Sometimes you just have to scratch your head, and thank the Lord that you do not need to explain the following verse in Sunday School, because if you did you would really face a quandary.

If you are of the section of faith that believe The Bible is infallible, and that it makes no false or misleading statements on any matter of faith and practice, or a believer in biblical inerrancy; that the Holy Scripture is the Word of God, and carries the full authority of God, and that every single statement of the Bible calls for instant and unqualified acceptance, you might have difficulty with my report for today.   Because that belief seems to hinge upon which version of Bible translation that you use in your Worship services.  Conflicting translations do exist.

If you grab your own personal favorite translation version of the Old Testament, and take a glance at Genesis 27:39, all might seem well.  Until, that is, you compare that version with any of the other versions, as I have done below.

I wasn’t actually focusing on this Chapter at all, but a Youtube headline caught my attention.  After LOL’ing for a good bit of time, I thought I would look into the verse that this Minister was providing as the basis for his sermon.

The title to that Video is “To Those Whom God Hates He Often Gives Plenty”, and the sermon is by a Puritan named Jonathan Edwards, who wrote in the early 1700s.   I noted that he was born in East Windsor, Connecticut, as was my Mom (it’s a suburb of Hartford now), and so I looked further into the verse.

Please understand, I was not laughing because I disagree with the title or his idea, in fact, I most firmly support it – based on clear evidence I think that, especially in modern times, most of us will agree that it appears that the most Godless and hateful people sure end up with buckets of money.

We only have to recall the pedophiles, many of whom are respected associates of Presidents and Kings, and stars or directors of fabulously popular films to affirm his title suggestion.

And even some of those who pervert the words of God by preaching things that are not even remotely included in the Old or New Testaments end up wealthy as sin, if you will pardon the metaphor.   So if money is your sole criteria towards the value of life, then likely you are firmly on the other side of the equation and laughing at my ignorance as I write this.  So be it.

Jonathan’s grandfather, Solomon Stoddard, died on February 11th, 1729, leaving to his grandson Jonathan the difficult task of the sole ministerial charge of one of the largest and wealthiest congregations in the colony.   And on top of that Jonathan had married the daughter of one of the founders of Yale University.  You might call him well connected for his timeline.

But then he began to have disagreements over the way he ran his Church. Jonathan felt that he could not and would not continue his grandfather’s practice of open communion. Stoddard, his grandfather, believed that communion was a “converting ordinance.”

Open communion is the practice of some Protestant Churches of allowing members and non-members to receive the Eucharist (also called Holy Communion or the Lord’s Supper). Many but not all churches that practice open communion require that the person receiving communion be a baptized Christian, and other requirements may apply as well. In Methodism, open communion is referred to as the open table.   Jonathan felt that those receiving Communion should be Baptized in the Church, and his grandfather and many of the others believed that providing Communion was an act that converted the receiver on the spot, so to speak.

Jonathan then moved to Stockbridge, Massachusetts, which was at the time a crude frontier settlement, where he ministered to a small congregation and served as missionary to the Housatonic Indians. There, having more time for study and writing, he completed his celebrated work, The Freedom of the Will (1754).   What we have here is an early dissenter; and one who was willing to give up all of his status and wealth rather than to compromise his values and beliefs.

Later we find that Jonathan was elected president of the College of New Jersey (later called Princeton University) in early 1758. He was a popular choice, for he had been a friend of the College since its inception and was the most eminent American philosopher-theologian of his time.  He left the protection and support of his wealthy Church, and earned the confused ire of his father in law of Yale fame, and yet brought himself back to become president of another top University.

And his end is relevant to our current situation as well, because we find that he died of fever at the age of fifty-four following experimental inoculation for smallpox.  This was equivalent to ‘The Jab’ of our day.
Not that I am noting any connection between those that disagree with the status quo, take the Jab and then end up dead. Anything but that.  Are you paying attention Google?  No need to shadow ban me today.  Again.

Now, as to my title, which I will prove is not click bait after all.  There does indeed seem to be a Biblical Tie as to what that verse in Genesis actually says.  Depending upon which version you read, you have a fifty-fifty chance of getting it wrong.  But don’t worry, we will be examining the original text in its Hebrew version below, so this mystery will end up solved on one side of the other, today.

If you read the King James, New King James, 1890 Darby Bible, American Standard Version, or New American Standard Version (and there are others too numerous to mention here), you will be told that Isaac assured his son that his dwelling would thenceforth be from the fatness and fertility of the Earth, and his water would come from the dew of heaven above itself.  Here are those actual verses to prove this idea:

New King James Version:
39 Then Isaac his father answered and said to him:
Behold, your dwelling shall be of the fatness (or fertility) of the earth,
And of the dew of heaven from above.

King James Version (KJV 1900)
39 And Isaac his father answered and said unto him,
Behold, thy dwelling shall be the fatness of the earth,
And of the dew of heaven from above;

1890 Darby Bible (DARBY)
39 And Isaac his father answered and said to him,
Behold, thy dwelling shall be of the fatness of the earth,
And of the dew of heaven from above;

American Standard Version (ASV 1901)
39 And Isaac his father answered and said unto him,
Behold, of the fatness of the earth shall be thy dwelling,
And of the dew of heaven from above.

New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update
39 Then Isaac his father answered and said to him,
Behold, away from the fertility of the earth shall be your dwelling,
And away from the dew of heaven from above.

Conversely, if you read the New International Version, the New Living Translation, The New Century Version,  The Holman Christian Standard Bible, The New Revised Standard Version, you will be told that you will be missing the Earth’s richness, you will not have any dew from heaven, and generally you will live in thirst and poverty, far from the lands of fatness. And perhaps this indicates a spiritual thirst as well as the physical version. And, strangely, in this case even the English Standard Version expresses this, whereas normally they are very close in agreement to the American Standard Version in all things spiritual.  That’s odd.  Here is that evidence as well:

The New International Version (NIV)
39 His father Isaac answered him,
Your dwelling will be away from the earth’s richness,
away from the dew of heaven above.

English Standard Version (ESV)
39 Then Isaac his father answered and said to him:
Behold, away from the fatness of the earth shall your dwelling be,
and away from the dew of heaven on high.

New Living Translation (NLT)
39 Finally, his father, Isaac, said to him,
You will live away from the richness of the earth,
and away from the dew of the heaven above.

New Century Version (NCV)
39 Isaac said to him,
You will live far away from the best land,
far from the rain.

The Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)
39 Then his father Isaac answered him:
Look, your dwelling place will be
away from the richness of the land,
away from the dew of the sky above.

The New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
39 Then his father Isaac answered him:
See, away from the fatness of the earth shall your home be,
and away from the dew of heaven on high.

So, perhaps now we see the problem.  No matter how we try to sugar-coat it, no matter what forms of denial or misdirection, or honest explanations we try to template these results with, the honest truth is that at least half of the people are going to be wrong.  Not dead wrong, but spiritually in error.  There’s simply no other way to express it.  Both points are well supported in various translations, and both speak of exactly opposite meanings and circumstances.  You could probably even start a new Holy War or Crusade if you asked one side to defend their version against the version used in other Churches.

In situations like this, I go back to the Bible.  I examine the original version of the text, and see just where the wheels started going off the cart, so to speak.  So let’s do that.

Place your bets, ladies and gentlemen.  Show me your money – pick your winners- you can’t win if you don’t wager so place your dollars down.  Oh, excuse me, this is supposed to be a report and here I am running off into the gambling world and heading completely off topic.  Back to business.  But really, which one would you have bet on, if you had to?

We all need a bit of background to the verse to help us understand the context, so here we are.
Rebekah (mother of Jacob and Esau) instructed Jacob to obtain the blessing and inheritance of all the wealth and the leadership of the people of the tribe from his father Isaac.  To steal it away from his brother, since his father was getting long in the tooth and could not see very well. And so
Jacob disguised himself as Esau and obtained the inheritance from his near-blind father.  Isaac had planned on making Esau the head of the family and his heir up to that time of trickery.

Esau naturally complained about this fraud, and then the text tells us that he obtained a minor blessing from Isaac.  Later Esau threatened Jacob, and Rebekah was disappointed at his anger, but actually to me it seems that he was very much in the right to complain about the fraud concocted by his mother and brother.  Actually, first-degree murder seems to have been on the table.

So this is the verse that speaks of that period in Genesis.  Would we not expect to see that he was indeed “blessed” by his father, Isaac?  Right away that would put us on the side of the KJV and supporting versions, but let’s wait until we hear it from the horse’s mouth.

Here is the Massoretic (or Masoretic) Hebrew text for that verse in Genesis.  It represents what the Hebrew people originally wrote down when they finally decided to put into writing some of their well-respected and guarded truths; those that had previously been kept in song.   Yes, they sang or chanted the verses as a form of memory device, before they had it reduced to writing.  And it proved enormously successful.

and, and therefore, also, then, yet
to answer, respond, testify, speak, shout
Yitschaq = Isaac
father of an individual
+ suffix indicating “his”

and, and therefore, also, then, yet
to say, speak, utter
to, toward, unto    but the word actually used is EL
+ suffix indicating “his”

behold, lo, see, if

from, out of, on account of, off, on the side of,
since, above,than, so that not, both…and, either…or
to be or become fat, grow fat
the, this,
land, country, tribal territory, Earth, land of Canaan, Israel

to be, become, come to pass, exist, happen, fall out, to take place
seat, assembly, dwelling-place, dwelling, dwellers, situation, location
+ suffix indicating “your”

and, and therefore, also, then, yet.
from, out of, on account of, off, on the side of,
since, above,than, so that not, both…and, either…or
dew, night mist
the, this,
heaven, heavens, the sky, atmosphere, etc

from, out of, on account of, off, on the side of,
since, above,than, so that not, both…and, either…or
upon, on the ground of, according to, on account of, on behalf of,
concerning, beside, in addition to, together with, beyond, above,
over, by, on to, towards, to, against

We should now put these into the Verb Subject Object sentence order that was used by the early Hebrews, (modern Hebrew sentence structure is more similar to English), and see what we have.

Verb                     Subject                    Object
responded now       Isaac,                          his father
and spoke              (Isaac)                     to his  (son Esau)
to be fat        on account of this Land      (you)
to be                           your                      dwelling place
and from             the dews                     of the heavens
from                   upon the ground of         (it) .

So we have something like this, in modern English:

And now his father Isaac responded,
Isaac spoke to his son Esau;
Behold!    You shall become fat on account of this land,
It shall be your dwelling place,
And the dews of heaven shall fall upon the ground of it.

Basically Isaac was telling Esau that by breaking his back upon the grounds of the land of Canann, he would become fat, or prosperous, and fertile; much like the crops or domestic animals that fed upon it.  It is sort of like the “God Bless You” blessing in thanks that one might receive after helping someone by changing their tire for them while it is raining.  You appreciate the sentiment, and good will, but some coins or better yet hard cash works much better than an off-handed blessing when you go to the store to purchase something.  I’m just saying.

I know that it is difficult to believe that the King James Version is more right than others in this example (except for the American Standard people who also got it right), since they are generally alone in their translations, and tend to differ from all of the others. But that’s the way it is, for once.

Did you win?  And if not, if you are one of the Churches that happens to use one of the versions of the Bible from our losers column, please don’t send me any hate email.  But you might want to inquire at your next Sunday gathering, for someone to explain to you just what is going on with your version of this verse.

I was once the angry man, much like Jonathan.  I re-translated much more than six hundred verses in the Old Testament.  I still have my worksheets to prove it.  My idea was to come up with a Bible version that was directly in line with what the original authors were inspired to write down – good or bad – and whether or not it accorded with modern belief. The truth, in other words.

I stopped when I realized that nobody actually wanted this done. Well, only a very few did. Perhaps the same two percent that today do not believe most of what the Government or most scientists tell us, ever, about anything.

Most are the other ninety-eight percent are content to believe what we are being told, just like we do when our scientists tell us things that we are to believe, even when they make no sense and do not conform to what the evidence is telling us.  It’s simply a part of the life we live now.   Someday the general acceptance of those convenient truths may spell our doom.

If you are among the group that would break up your family, leave your Church, quit your Pastorate, abandon your inheritance and anger your in-laws, and all for the sake of a differing belief in one or more of the tenants that you hold dear to your heart, please remember the above.

Perhaps it’s past time for us to simply sit down and discuss what we have, rather than allowing the bad work of an ignorant or unknowing translator to spoil our ideas about worship.  Because down that long road goes the next step – with people abandoning the Church in angry disgust.

We don’t need divisions.  We need inclusions.   If you liked this, and would like to see more, drop me a comment or tell a friend.  Thanks for your time.   And have a blessed day as Isaac would say.