Matthew 11:7 What did you go out into the wilderness to see?

Spoken to: 

audience

Context: 

About Cousin John,  the attraction

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

What did you go out into the desolation to view for yourselves? A hollow stalk under a wind being waved?

My Takeaway: 

Those worth our time stand outside the expected framework and have a solid core. 

KJV : 

Matthew 11:7 What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind?

NIV : 

Matthew 11:7 What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind?

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

This verse is identical to Luke 7:24. There are a couple of subtle aspects to this verse that are hidden in translation. However, the verse is clearly humorous with a subtle play on words that is lost in translation.  The "see" is not one of the common Greek words meaning "see" but a rarer one meaning "to gaze at." It is the root for our word "theater." The "reed" is a metaphor for something upright but hollow. The "wind" is a synonym for the Greek word for "spirit," which means "a blast of wind" and the "breath of life."

Wordplay: 

 A play on "wind" being a synonym for "spirit." 

Related Verses: 

Greek Vocabulary: 

Τί (pron sg neut nom ) What" is from tis which can mean "someone," "any one," "everyone," "they [indefinite]," "many a one," "whoever," "anyone," "anything," "some sort," "some sort of," "each," "any," "the individual," "such," and so on. In a question, it can mean "who," "why," or "what."

ξήλθατε (2nd pl aor ind act) "Went ye" is from exerchomai, which means "to come or go out of " "to march forth," "go out on," "to stand forth," "to exceed all bounds," "to come to an end," "to go out of office," and [of dreams or prophecies] "to come true."

εἰς (prep) "Into" is from eis, which means "into (of place)," "up to (of time)," "until (of time)," "as much as (of measure or limit)," "as far as (of measure or limit)," "towards (to express relation)," "in regard to (to express relation)," "of an end or limit," and "for (of purpose or object)."

τὴ ν(article sg neut acc)  "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the").

ἔρημον [2 verses](adj sg neut acc) "The wilderness" is from eremos, which is an adjective (used as a noun) that means "desolate," "lonely," "solitary," "reft of," "destitute of," "bereft of," "unclaimed," "vacant," [of places] "deserted," [of people] "friendless," and "not gregarious."

θεάσασθαι; [6 verses](aor inf mid) "To see" is theaomai, which means "to behold," "to gaze with a sense of wonder," "view as a spectator," "to see clearly," and "to contemplate."

κάλαμον [2 verses](noun sg masc acc) "A reed" is kalamos, which means "a reed" or anything made of reed, specifically a reed staff, a measuring reed, a reed you write with, a fishing pole, a shaft of an arrow, or a reed pipe.

ὑπὸ (prep) "With" is from hypo (hupo), which means [with genitive] "from under (of motion)," "down under," under, beneath," indicating a cause with passive verbs, "by," "under," or "with," "under the cover or protection of," "of the agency of feelings, passions," "expressing subjection or dependence," "subordinate," "subject to;" [with accusative] "towards" and "under" (to express motion), "under" (without a sense of motion), "subjection," "control," "dependence," of Time, "in the course of," "during," "about," as an adverb, "under," "below," beneath, the agency or influence under which a thing is done "by," "before,' and "under," (with genitive and passive verbs of cause).

ἀνέμου [6 verses](noun sg masc gen​) "The wind" is anemos, which means "wind," "a cardinal point," or "quarter." It means both the physical wind and the direction from which the wind comes.

σαλευόμενον; [3 verses](part sg pres mp) "Shaken" is saleusô, which means "to cause to rock," "to vibrate," "to wave to and frow, "move up and down," "roll," "toss," and metaphorically, "toss like a ship at sea," "to be tempest-tossed," and "be in sore distress."

KJV Analysis: 

What  - The word translated as "what" is a pronoun that often, but not always signals a question.

went  - The word translated as "went" means literally "to go or come out," but it has a secondary meaning of "making something come true."

ye -- This is from the second-person, plural form of the verb.

out -- This is from the prefix that means "from"of the previous verb, which means "out of" or "from."

into  -- The word translated as "unto" means "into" a place, "towards" as a direction, "in regards to" a subject, and "up to" limits in time and measure.

the -- The word translated as "the" is the Greek definite article. The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those") than the English "the." See this article for more. 

wilderness  - "Wilderness" is from an adjective meaning "desolate," "lonely," and "solitary." It has the sense of the English phrase "the middle of nowhere."

to -- This "to" is added because the infinitive form of the verb requires a "to" in English.

see? -- (CW) The Greek verb translated as "to see" means to "gaze at" or "behold." It is not one of the common words usually translated simply as "to see." It has the sense of viewing something as a spectator. Of the mind, it means "to contemplate." It is in the form describing someone acting on themselves.The Greek verb translated as "to see" means to "gaze at" or "behold." It is not one of the common words usually translated simply as "to see." It has the sense of viewing something as a spectator. Of the mind, it means "to contemplate." It is in the form describing someone acting on themselves.

missing "by/for yourselves"-- (WV) A phrase is necessary because the form of the previous verb is a middle voice, which means that the subject is to  act "for yourself" or "by yourselves."

a -- There is no indefinite article in Greek, but when a word doesn't have a definite article, the indefinite article can be added in English translation.

reed  - "A reed" is translated from a Greek word that means "a reed," that is, a plant of hollow stalks that is not a bush or tree. Christ uses it as a metaphor for something standing upright that is not hard or solid.

shaken  - (WF, WV)  "Shaken" is a verb which means "to cause to rock," "to vibrate," and has the metaphorical meaning of "being tempest-tossed" It is in the form which indicates that subject acting on themselves. In English, we describe someone shaking themselves as "trembling."

with - (CW) The word translated as "with" primarily means "by," "under," or "with" (with the genitive and a passive verb as here). Its primary meaning is "under" both in the sense of moving under, being under, and being under different forms of compulsion.

the -- (IW) There is  nothing in the Greek that can be translated as "the" in the Greek source. A singular noun without a definite article should have an indefinite article, "a" not the definitie article, "the."

wind? -- "Wind" is from a noun which means "wind" or "gale." However, lost in translation is the fact that the Greek word translated as "spirit" also means "breath" or "wind." Christ does not use the word here but he refers to it.

KJV Translation Issues: 

6
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "see" is not one of the common words usually translated as "see."
  • WV  - Wrong Voice - The verb "see" is in the middle voice requiring the concept of "yourselves" as its object.
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "shaken" is not an active verb but a participle, "shaking."
  • WV - Wrong Voice - The verb here is translated as active but it is passive, "being shaken."
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "with" is not the common word usually translated as "with."
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "the" doesn't exist in the source.

NIV Analysis: 

What  - The word translated as "what" is a pronoun that often, but not always signals a question.

did -- This helping verb is used to create questions, commands, negative statements, and smooth word flow in English, but the Greek could be either a question or a statement.

you -- This is from the second-person, plural form of the verb.

go - The word translated as "went" means literally "to go or come out," but it has a secondary meaning of "making something come true."

out -- This is from the prefix that means "from"of the previous verb, which means "out of" or "from."

into  -- The word translated as "unto" means "into" a place, "towards" as a direction, "in regards to" a subject, and "up to" limits in time and measure.

the -- The word translated as "the" is the Greek definite article. The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those") than the English "the." See this article for more. 

wilderness  - "Wilderness" is from an adjective meaning "desolate," "lonely," and "solitary." It has the sense of the English phrase "the middle of nowhere."

to -- This "to" is added because the infinitive form of the verb requires a "to" in English.

see? -- (CW) The Greek verb translated as "see" means to "gaze at" or "behold." It is not one of the common words usually translated simply as "to see." It has the sense of viewing something as a spectator. Of the mind, it means "to contemplate." It is in the form describing someone acting on themselves.The Greek verb translated as "to see" means to "gaze at" or "behold." It is not one of the common words usually translated simply as "to see." It has the sense of viewing something as a spectator. Of the mind, it means "to contemplate." It is in the form describing someone acting on themselves.

missing "by/for yourselves"-- (WV) A phrase is necessary because the form of the previous verb is a middle voice, which means that the subject is to  act "for yourself" or "by yourselves."

A -- There is no indefinite article in Greek, but when a word doesn't have a definite article, the indefinite article can be added in English translation.

reed  - "Red" is translated from a Greek word that means "a reed," that is, a plant of hollow stalks that is not a bush or tree. Christ uses it as a metaphor for something standing upright that is not hard or solid.

swayed - (WF, WV, WT)  "Swayed" is a verb which means "to cause to rock," "to vibrate," and has the metaphorical meaning of "being tempest-tossed" It is in the form which indicates that subject acting on themselves. In English, we describe someone shaking themselves as "trembling."

by - The word translated as "by" primarily means "by," "under," or "with" (with the genitive and a passive verb as here). Its primary meaning is "under" both in the sense of moving under, being under, and being under different forms of compulsion.

the -- (IW) There is  nothing in the Greek that can be translated as "the" in the Greek source. A singular noun without a definite article should have an indefinite article, "a" not the definitie article, "the."

wind? -- "Wind" is from a noun which means "wind" or "gale." However, lost in translation is the fact that the Greek word translated as "spirit" also means "breath" or "wind." Christ does not use the word here but he refers to it.

NIV Translation Issues: 

6
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "see" is not one of the common words usually translated as "see."
  • WV  - Wrong Voice - The verb "see" is in the middle voice requiring the concept of "yourselves" as its object.
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "shaken" is not an active verb but a participle, "shaking."
  • WV - Wrong Voice - The verb here is translated as active but it is passive, "being shaken."
  • WT - Wrong Tense - The verb "swayed" indicates the past tense, but the tense present, or future.
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "the" doesn't exist in the source.

Front Page Date: 

Sep 29 2020