The Berean Expositor
Volume 15 - Page 147 of 160
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To some, the "laws of the Hebrew language", like the man-made laws of any other
language or science, may not appear to be such a solid basis that one can without qualm
erect upon it the fabric that this writer would. We believe that we have a far more solid
basis than these can ever be, viz., the very rock of inspired Scripture.
The Acid Test.
The Piel form of the Hebrew verb chata "sin" is translated in the A.V. as follows:--
"I bare the loss of it" (Gen. 31: 39).
"Took the blood . . . . . and purified the altar" (Lev. 8: 15).
"The ashes of the heifer . . . . . a purification for sin" (Num. 19: 9).***
"Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean" (Psa. 51: 7).
We maintain that the above renderings are correct. This is denied. After quoting from
Gesenius and another authority on Hebrew, also supplementing by eleven examples from
the A.V., the writer says:--
"What other deduction can we come to than that the renderings of the intensive form
sin--`offer for sin', `make reconciliation', `purge', `cleanse', `purify', `bear the loss'
(for these are the great variety offered in our versions) are themselves sins of translation?
Sin is lawlessness. They are contrary to the laws of the Hebrew language.
Now we have some solid ground. Since the Piel form gives new intensity to the
simple verb, it not only partakes of the nature of sin, but does so in a greater degree than
the simple word sin. Instead of being the opposite of sin, as you suggest, it is sin more
intensely sinful . . . . . So the Piel of sin is not purify, but make sin."
We have read and re-read these words in order that we may not misrepresent their
intention.  Partaking of the nature of sin in a greater degree cannot mean merely
apparently so. No, here we have unqualified denial and condemnation of the translations
offered by the A.V. and the Septuagint.
Now for the test. Both critic and criticized subscribe whole-heartedly to the doctrine
of the verbal inspiration of Scripture, and this being so we have the end of all argument in
the epistle to the Hebrews. Whether Paul or Luke or Apollos wrote the epistle matters
not, we both believe God inspired its every word.
The test passage.
Our test passage is Num. 19: The whole chapter is devoted to the provision of the
ashes of the heifer and its purpose. "Hyssop", referred to so impressively in Psa. 51: 7, is
found in the prescription. The A.V. tells us that these ashes were to be kept to make a
water of separation, further explained as "a purification for sin" (19: 9).  This is
supposed to be a lawless translation. Coming to the application of this water we read:--