A Voice in the
Wilderness

site navigation

free newsletter

October 5, 2004

Return to: 
Q/A's

Introduction: This Q/A item was part of a much larger mailing to the subscribers; thus, you will notice certain comments seemingly related to something that seems to be missing here. The other topics discussed in that mailing have already been covered at length in other files at this website; thus, only this discussion of "Strongs, etc" is necessary at this point. I believe this will stand on its own...

Strongs Numbers - Concordances - Lexicons

How "reliable" is it? First of all, let's clear up the difference between a "concordance" and a "lexicon". A concordance, according to dictionary definition, is merely "An alphabetical index of all the words in a text or corpus (body) of texts, showing every contextual occurrence of a word..." While many published concordances -include- lexicons, by definition, a concordance only lists the 'occurance' of word/s. Thus, a concordance of the KJV is a concordance of the KJV. If you try to look something up in a Strongs, hoping to find the word in a NKJV, NASB, etc, you -may- be successful in finding it, where the various translations happen to use the same word/s. But if you look up in Strongs (for example) the word "oracle", hoping to find its occurance in the VW-edition, you won't find it, because the VW does not contain any instances of that word. The pagan "Oracle" does not appear in the Heb/Grk texts. Thus, while a Strong's concordance is linked to the KJV, it is not a tool for looking up occurances of Heb/Grk words. The KJV translates some words one way in some places, and in other ways in other places...thus, you cannot assume that finding all instances of a particular English word will also help you find every instance of its underlying Heb/Grk word.

This is where computer software runs circles around the old published -books-. Software searches words/phrases for the -actual- particular translation module you have activated. While compiling the VW-edition I found QuickVerse (the old 16-bit version 4.0 that I have) to be -very- handy for searching for instances of Heb/Grk words; it surpassed Online Bible for that (although I prefer OLB for everything else).

Lexicons, on the other hand, are 'dictionaries'. The Strong's "exhaustive" places the 'numbers' at the right column of the concordance listing, and then you have to page back to the back sections to find the number with its corresponding word definitions. With computer software, typically, you can either click the word (within the KJV window), or expand the word to reveal the number, click it, and another window pops up with the definition. (so much easier!)

There are better and worse lexicons. And here we get into an aspect of why you will sometimes find words in a translation, that don't seem to match the definition in the lexicon. Some of the fault lies in the lexicon used; some of the fault lies in 'how' the translator/compiler used the lexicon. Let's look at one example:

Jacob retorts to Joseph's dream, "...Shall it come to pass that your mother and I and your brothers indeed come to prostrate ourselves to the earth before you?" (Gen37:10)

This word "prostrate" in the VW-edition, in KJV is rendered "bow down". According to the lexicon included with Strongs, either expression might be viewed equally correct:

7812. shachah, shaw-khaw'; a prim. root; to depress, i.e. prostrate (espec. reflex. in homage to royalty or God):--bow (self) down, crouch, fall down (flat), humbly beseech, do (make) obeisance, do reverence, make to stoop, worship.

However, if we look this up with OLB we find:


1) to bow down 
   1a) (Qal) to bow down 
   1b) (Hiphil) to depress (fig) 
   1c) (Hithpael) 
       1c1) to bow down, prostrate oneself 
            1c1a) before superior in homage 
            1c1b) before God in worship 
            1c1c) before false gods 
            1c1d) before angel 

Notice the indicators "Qal, Hiphil, Hithpael". The OLB Lexicons have gone a step further from the basic Strongs. Notice that both Strongs and OLB include most of the same definitional subtlties. But from Strongs one isn't given any indication of the 'flavor' of the definition in the particular passage. With OLB, in the O.T., after the Strongs number is another that gives indicates of the various properties to the Hebrew word in that specific location. For this word in Gen37:10 it informs us about the word:


08692 Stem  - Hithpael           See 08819
      Mood  - Infinitive         See 08812
      Count-116

From the "Stem - Hithpael" we see that we need to focus on the definitions in the "1c" section. Notice that the flavor of the word is not merely an eastern 'bowing' as any two people might do as they meet each other along the way (westerners shake hands - eastern tradition bows); but is like a subject bowing to one of high station. Thus, to my mind/heart the word "prostrate" seemed to 'fit' that flavor better; especially when the context has them doing so "to the earth". One typically can bow either standing or sitting. But when one is on the ground, that goes beyond simple bowing. Also, seeing the "Mood- Infinitive" explains how it is worded "-to- prostrate".

This kind of information is not available with the original Strong's lexicon. As I'm browsing just now, the lexicons included with the QuickVerse software is the traditional as found in the bound edition (book) of Strong's "Exhaustive" concordance. One of the reasons I prefer OLB software is because of this added feature in its lexicons. In addition, with use over time, I've found the traditional Strong's lexicons to often not be nearly as complete in the amount/range of definitions offered, as compared to what comes with OLB.

This example illustrated a relatively benign 'difference'. The words "bow" and "prostrate" are both technically correct, but I feel that prostrate gives a little better 'feel' or sense for the mood of what Jacob was saying. But there are other instances where the differences in possible definitions and word choices are greater, and can give a totally different meaning.


e.g. 
Hebrew 05142 nazak
   1a) (Pal) to suffer injury 
   1b) (Aphel) to injure 

Use these wrong, and it becomes mistaken as to 'whom' the action is happening. Is the person in question -doing- the action, or suffering it?


Hebrew 05132 nuwts
   1) (Qal) to fly, flee 
   2) (Hiphil) to bloom, blossom 

I don't have an actual reference in mind right now (I never notated them when I saw them), but this latter is an example of the -kind- of thing that is wrong with the LITV here and there (that I've mentioned from time to time); and why Green's Interlinear, also, is not always totally reliable. These works don't always get the "Qal" and "Hiphil" straight, so they render a "Qal" where it should have been a "Hiphil". For instance, if we were to speak of a flower "blooming" the LITV might say the flower was "fleeing". There is no such instance, but again, this is the -kind- of thing one will find. Being "literal" is good, but again... like being literal to Antioch instead of Alexandria, the same must be extended into these grammatical/lexical considerations. (For you that are scholars, please understand this is all simplified down for easy understanding...low-common-denominator...at a level that even I understand it. -smile-)

e.g. SS6:11 "I went down to the garden of nuts to see the greenery of the valley, to see whether the vine had budded and the pomegranates had bloomed." Can you imagine pomegranates "fleeing" ....running away? (BTW: LITV renders this instance of "nuwts" 05132 correctly)

However, Green's Interlinear is very useful for having a copy of the actual Hebrew and Greek texts in one edition, with the Strongs numbers next to each word. For the O.T. look up the Strongs number with OLB and get the lexical details. For the Greek, to find cases, moods, genders, etc. (Conjugations/Declensions) look up the actual Greek words in the "Greek Dictionary" in the 'Study Aids' page at the website...find the word listing with the Greek letters exactly as printed in the Interlinear, and then by means of the code tables in the Greek Dictionary, look up all those grammatical particulars.

Unless a person is scholarly fluent in ancient Hebrew and Greek, these are the kinds of hoops it seems necessary to jump through to do detailed word studies. And yes, if you are starting in Spanish, or another language, you have an added step to get from your language into the KJV because of its connection to the Strongs numbers as the study tool.

Does Strong's come from Antioch? Not directly. It does so only in that it is a "KJV" study tool, and the KJV comes from Antioch; thus, it will show the Heb/Grk words from which that KJV English word is alleged to have come. (I say "alleged" because some KJV words here and there are -not- what the Heb/Grk say. However, the Strong's number will point you to the correct word in the Heb/Grk for that given passage.) If you look up something in Strongs, and then also look up the same associated location in a NASB or NIV study tool, where you found the English words to be different, you will also likely find the Heb/Grk words to be different. Again: because one comes from Antioch, and the other from Alexandria. They are -different- 'manuscripts'. One is God's Word, the other is perverted by Babylon's Queen of Heaven.

If all you get from this mailing is the Antioch/Alexandria difference, this mailing will have served its most important function...to make you 'aware' of the matter. All the rest about Strongs you can learn by -doing-... 'using' the tools.

[Top]


Return to: Q/A's