Matthew 24:28 For wheresoever the carcase is,

Spoken to: 

Apostles

Context: 

A long section about "the end of the world" or, more precisely, "the culmination of an era."

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

Anywhere, when there is that fall, in that place they will be brought together, those carrion birds.

My Takeaway: 

Life's vultures want to enrich themselves on the fall of others.

KJV : 

Matthew 24:28 For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.

NIV : 

Matthew 24:28 Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather.

What is Lost in Translation: 

In Matthew 24:3, Jesus's students ask about "the sign of thy coming" after Jesus foretells the fall of the Temple This verse continues the discussion of "signs," where the Greek word for "sign" means "omens." The word translated here as "eagles/vultures" is another word that means "omen."  This verse has the feeling of being a folk saying, which perhaps it was. It is a play on words, describing both vultures around a corpse and omens around times of trouble. This verse leads into the following verse Matthew 24:29, which describes a series of bad omens.

The wordplay in this verse starts with "carcass," translated from a Greek word that means a "fall," "injuries from falls," or "fallen body" so a "corpse." It also means "ruin," which refers to the original topic, the fall of the Temple. So the parallel here is a dead body attracting birds of prey while the fall of a temple attracts another type of vulture. This word was a common metaphor for "misfortune" and "calamity."

The other multiple-meaning word here is translated as "eagles/vultures." The Greek word means "eagle," "bird of omen," or "omen." This word was used in the Septuagint to translate the Hebrew word for nesher, which means both "eagle" and "vulture. This word could also be a reference to the Roman legions, who carried an eagle as their standard. Among the Jews, it was forbidden to eat eagles, along with buzzards and vultures, so they were grouped among carrion birds. While there are positive characteristics of eagles in Jewish writing, based on their size and strength,, the traditional view is negative, conflating them with vultures. The Greek and Roman cultures had a very positive view of the bird, but they also saw eagles as a bird of omen. Of course, it symbolized Rome.

Wordplay: 

The word translated as "carcase" primarily means "the fall" in the sense of a calamity.

The word translated as "eagle" means both "vulture" and "omen."

The verse describes both vultures around a corpse and omens around times of trouble. 

Th

Related Verses: 

Greek Vocabulary: 

ὅπου [32 verses] (adv/conj)"Wheresoever" is from hopou, which means "somewhere," "anywhere," "wherever," and "where."

ἐὰν [162 verses](conj) "Untranslated is ean, which is a conditional particle (derived from ei (if)and an (might)) which makes reference to a time and experience in the future that introduces but does not determine an event.

.[614 verses](verb 3rd sg pres subj act ) "Is" is from eimi, which means "to be," "to exist," "to be the case," and "is possible." (The future form is esomai. The 3rd person present indicative is "esti.")

τὸ [821 verses](article sg neut nom/acc)  "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the").

πτῶμα, [1 verse](noun sg neut nom/acc) "Carcase" is ptoma, which means "fall," "injuries due to falls," "fallen body," "corpse," "carcass," of buildings, "ruin," "windfall fruit," and a metaphor for "misfortune" and "calamity." Not to be confused with ptosis (πτῶσις) which means the actual activity of falling.

ἐκεῖ: [33 verses](adv) "There" is from ekei, which means "there," "in that place," and in philosophy means "the intelligible world."

συναχθήσονται [20 verses](verb 3rd pl fut ind pass) "Will be gathered together" is synago, which means "bring together," "gather together," "pit [two warriors against each other]," "join in one," "unite," "make friends of," "lead with one," "receive," "reconcile," "draw together," "narrow," "contract," "conclude [from premises]," " infer," and "prove."

οἱ [821 verses](article pl masc nom)  "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). 

ἀετοί. [2 verses](noun pl masc nom) "Eagles" is aetos, which means "eagle," (which was considered a bird of omen) "eagle as a standard (of the Roman legions)," and "omen."

KJV Analysis: 

For -- (OS) There is nothing in the Greek that can be translated as "for" in the source we use today but it does exist in the source that the KJV translators used.

wheresoever  - The "wheresoever" is from a word that means "somewhere," "anywhere," "wherever," and "where."

missing "when"  -- (MW) The untranslated word "if might" indicates more of an expectation of something happening than "if" alone. This is often how we use the word "when."

the -- The word translated as "the" is the Greek definite article, without a noun, it has the sense of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those") than the English "the." See this article for more. 

carcase  - (MM) "Carcase" or "carcass" is translated from a Greek word that means a "fall," "injuries from falls," or "fallen body" so a "corpse." This word was a common metaphor for "misfortune" and "calamity." It has a definite article, "the," so "the fall" or "the calamity." It means the result of a fall more than the act of falling. It is one noun form of the common verb used above meaning "to fall." This is the only time this word is used by Jesus. He uses another word describing the act of falling only once as well in Matthew 7:27.

is, -- The verb "is" here is the common form of "to be" in Greek. It means to have a certain characteristic or remain in a certain condition. It also equates terms or assigns characteristics. 

there  - "There" is a word meaning "there," "in that place," and in philosophy means "the intelligible world."

will  -  -- This helping verb "will" indicates that the verb is the future tense. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English.

the -- The word translated as "the" is the Greek definite article, without a noun, it has the sense of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those") than the English "the." See this article for more. 

eagles  - (MM) Eagles" is from the Greek word for "eagle," "bird of omen," or "omen." It is a Greek word, but this word was used in the Septuagint to translate the Hebrew word for "eagle" (nesher), which means both "eagle" and "vulture." Among the Jews, it was forbidden to eat eagles, along with buzzards and vultures, so they were grouped among carrion birds. Some uses of this word, such as Micah 1:16, which refers to the baldness of eagles, clearly referring to vultures, which are bald. (Bald eagles, of course, are not bald but have white feathers on their adult heads and were not known in the ancient world.) While there are positive characteristics of eagles in Jewish writing, based on their size and strength. This view of eagles in the West is positive, but this comes from Greek and Roman culture, which had a very positive view of the bird, but they also saw eagles as a bird of omen.

be-- This helping verb "be" indicates that the verb is passive. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English.

gathered  - The Greek word translated as "will be gathered together" means "to bring together." It is the word used both for gathering crops and bringing animals in from the fields. One of its noun forms that is familiar is "synagogue" which means "meeting place" in Greek. It is in the passive, which means something is gathering the vultures together. The form does not indicate that they are gathering themselves.

together. -- This is from the prefix of the previous verb that means "toegther."

KJV Translation Issues: 

4
  • OS -- Outdated Source -- The Greek word translated as "behold" existed in the KJV Greek source but not the one we used today.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "when" is not shown in the English translation.
  • MM -- Many Meanings -- This word "carcase" has several different meanings that work here and is a form of wordplay.
  • MM -- Many Meanings -- This word "eagle" has several different meanings that work here and is a form of wordplay.

NIV Analysis: 

Wherever - The "wherever" is from a word that means "somewhere," "anywhere," "wherever," and "where."

missing "when"  -- (MW) The untranslated word "if might" indicates more of an expectation of something happening than "if" alone. This is often how we use the word "when"

there -- When the verb "to be" appears early in the clause before the subject, the sense is more like "it is" or  "there is."

is, -- The verb "is" here is the common form of "to be" in Greek. It means to have a certain characteristic or remain in a certain condition. It also equates terms or assigns characteristics. 

a -- (WW) The word translated as "a" is the Greek definite article, without a noun, it has the sense of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those") than the English "the." See this article for more. 

carcass, - (MM) "Carcass" is translated from a Greek word that means a "fall," "injuries from falls," or "fallen body" so a "corpse." This word was a common metaphor for "misfortune" and "calamity." It has a definite article, "the," so "the fall" or "the calamity." It means the result of a fall more than the act of falling. It is one noun form of the common verb used above meaning "to fall." This is the only time this word is used by Jesus. He uses another word describing the act of falling only once as well in Matthew 7:27.

there - "There" is a word meaning "there," "in that place," and in philosophy means "the intelligible world."

the -- The word translated as "the" is the Greek definite article, without a noun, it has the sense of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those") than the English "the." See this article for more. 

vultures - (MM) "Vultures" is from the Greek word for "eagle," "bird of omen," or "omen." It is a Greek word, but this word was used in the Septuagint to translate the Hebrew word for "eagle" (nesher), which means both "eagle" and "vulture." Among the Jews, it was forbidden to eat eagles, along with buzzards and vultures, so they were grouped among carrion birds. Some uses of this word, such as Micah 1:16, which refers to the baldness of eagles, clearly referring to vultures, which are bald. (Bald eagles, of course, are not bald but have white feathers on their adult heads and were not known in the ancient world.) While there are positive characteristics of eagles in Jewish writing, based on their size and strength. This view of eagles in the West is positive, but this comes from Greek and Roman culture, which had a very positive view of the bird, but they also saw eagles as a bird of omen.

will  -  -- This helping verb "will" indicates that the verb is the future tense. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English.

gather.  - (WV) The Greek word translated as "will be gathered together" means "to bring together." It is the word used both for gathering crops and bringing animals in from the fields. One of its noun forms that is familiar is "synagogue" which means "meeting place" in Greek. It is in the passive, which means something is gathering the vultures together. The form does not indicate that they are gathering themselves. The verb is passive, not active.

NIV Translation Issues: 

5
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "when" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "a" should be something more like "the."
  • MM -- Many Meanings -- This word "carcase" has several different meanings that work here and is a form of wordplay.
  • MM -- Many Meanings -- This word "eagle" has several different meanings that work here and is a form of wordplay.
  • WV - Wrong Voice - The verb here is translated as active but it is passive .

Front Page Date: 

Sep 25 2021