Matthew 12:5 Or have you not read in the law,

Spoken to: 

The Pharisees

Context: 

Pharisees attack, violating the Sabbath

KJV : 

Matthew 12:5 Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless?

Literal Verse: 

Or don't 't you recognized it in the Law? Because on these Sabbaths, the consecrated ones in the consecrated [place], the Sabbath defile and not the cause they are?

What is Lost in Translation: 

Jesus often reverses this order to put his punch lines at the end of the verse. These words are often uncommon words for him, increasing the surprise. He also uses the word order to build up drama and tension to make his points. The result can usually be translated more or less directly into English. Here, both the "profane" and the "blameless" are unusual words.

There was apparently something the NIV translators didn't like about the Greek here. Their version changes the beginning "or" here to "and." They also eliminate the uncommon words translating in KJV as "profane" and "blameless" without replacing them. They add and subtract more words than they translate.  How are English readers suppose to connect the two versions or know what Jesus said? 

My Takeaway: 

Deeds that are consecrated to the Divine cannot violate the law.

Greek : 

Wordplay: 

 The repeating of "holy men" and "holy place" to emphasize motivation here. 

The use of a word meaning "not the cause" to mean "blameless" to focus on motivation. 

Greek Vocabulary: 

 (conj) "Or" is from e which is a particle meaning "either," "or," or "than."

οὐκ (partic) "Not" is from ou which is the negative adverb for facts and statements, negating both singles words and sentences. The other negative adverb, μή applies to will and thought; οὐ denies, μή rejects; οὐ is absolute, μή relative; οὐ objective, μή subjective.

ἀνέγνωτε [4 verses] (2nd pl aor ind act) "Ye read" is anagignôskô, which means to "know well," "know certainly," "perceive," "attend lectures on," "acknowledge," "recognize," "induce" one to do a thing, "persuade," "convince," of books. "read aloud," "published," in the passive, "to be persuaded" to do a thing, and, as a noun, "students" (those who attend lectures).

ἐν (prep) "In" is from en, which means "in," "on," "at," "by," "among," "within," "surrounded by," "in one's hands," "in one's power," and "with."

τῷ (article sg masc dat)  "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). 

νόμῳ (noun sg masc dat) "The law" is from nomos, which means "anything assigned," "a usage," "custom," "law," "ordinance," or "that which is a habitual practice." It is the basis of the English words "norm" and "normal."

ὅτι (conj.adv) "How that" is from hoti, which introduces a statement of fact "with regard to the fact that," "seeing that," and acts as a causal adverb meaning "for what," "because," "since," and "wherefore."

τοῖς (article pl neut dat)  "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). 

σάββασιν (noun pl neut dat) "On the sabbath days" is from sabbaton, which means "Sabbath," "seven days of week," and "first day of week."

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

ἱερεῖς (noun pl masc nom) "Priests" is hiereus, which means a "holy man," "priest," "sacrificer," "diviner" and is a metaphor for a "minister." It is also a verb meaning "to consecrate" or "to dedicated" in the form of a present participle so "the ones consecrating" or "the ones dedicating." Both come from the word hieros, which means "super-human," "mighty," "divine," "wonderful" and "holy." This make "holy man" a "wonderful man."

ἐν (prep) "In" is from en, which means "in," "on," "at," "by," "among," "within," "surrounded by," "in one's hands," "in one's power," and "with."

τῷ (article sg masc dat)  "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). 

ἱερῷ [7 verses](adj sg masc dat) "The temple" is from hieron, means which means "filled with or manifesting divine power," "holy," "consecrated," "under divine protection," "holy place," "sacred principle," and "supernatural." It is related to the word used for "priest." Both come from the word hieros, which means "super-human," "mighty," "divine," "wonderful" and "holy."

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

σάββατον (article sg neut acc)  "The sabbath days" is from sabbaton, which means "Sabbath," "seven days of week," and "first day of week."

βεβηλοῦσιν [1 verse] (3rd pl pres ind act ) "Profane" is from bebêloô, which means "to profane," "to pollute" and "to defile" especially meant to refer to the Sabbath.

καὶ (conj) "And" is from kai, which is the conjunction joining phrases and clauses, "and," or "also." After words implying sameness, "as" (the same opinion as you). Used in series, joins positive with negative "Not only...but also." Also used to give emphasis, "even," "also," and "just."

ἀναίτιοί [2 verses](adj pl masc nom) "Blameless" is anaitios, which means "not being at fault," "guiltless," and "not being the cause" of something. It means literally "not the cause."

εἰσιν; (verb 3rd pl pres ind act) "Are" is from eimi, which means "to be," "to exist," "to be the case," and "is possible." It can also mean "must" with a dative.

KJV Analysis: 

Or -- "Or" is translated from a Greek word that means primarily "or" but serves as "than" in a comparison. The same word could also be the exclamation "hi" or the adverb meaning "in truth."

have -- (WT) This helping verb "have" indicates that the verb is the tense indicating an action completed in the past. This is not the tense of the verb here.

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

not -- The Greek word translated as "not" is the Greek negative used to deny objective facts, not opinions. It means "no," "not," or"no truly." It makes a negative statement of fact. A

read -  (WW) "Read" is a Greek verb that means "to know well," "to persuade," and "to recognize." It doesn't mean "read" in the normal sense (nor is it the word that Christ uses normally for "read,") but it can mean "to read aloud" or "to attend a lecture." This perhaps refers to the Jewish practice of reading the Scriptures at meetings.

in   -- The word translated as "in" means "in," "within," "with," "during" (time),  or "among"  with a dative object as the one here. 

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. 

law,  - "Law" is translated from a Greek word that means "that which is in habitual usage," "custom," and "tradition." The word's translation to the "law" is a special use from the Bible. The sense is much more that the Moses' books of the Old Testament are the "traditions" of the Jews. See this article.

how that  - (CW) "How that" this is a word that means "that" or "because." What follows is a clause that explains a cause. In English, we would often start a new sentence. This also often indicates that Jesus is answering a question.

on  - -- This word "no" comes from the dative case of the following word that requires the addition of a preposition in English. The most common is a "to" for the English indirect object. However, the translator can choose other prepositions: "with,"  "in,"   "of,"  "as," "by," "for," "at," or "on" depending on the context. Technically, "during" might be more correct.

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. 

sabbath -- The word translated as the "the Sabbath day" is the Greek version of the Hebrew word "shabbat" meaning "rest" or "day of rest."  

days -- There is no word "days" in the Greek, but this is added because "Sabbath" is plural.

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. 

priests  - The word translated as "the priests" is the noun that we translated as "priest" or "sacrificer" but it is also the noun form of the verb meaning "to consecrate" or "to dedicate" so "the ones consecrating" or "the ones dedicating." It has the same root as the word translated as "temple" from the idea of "consecrated." 

in   -- The word translated as "in" means "in," "within," "with," "during" (time),  or "among"  with a dative object as the one here. 

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. 

temple   - "The temple" is a word related to the one above, from the same root, which means literally "holy place" or "temple." Both come from the root word, which means "super-human," "mighty," "divine," "wonderful" and "holy." This makes "holy man" a "wonderful man" and a "holy place," a "wonderful place."

profane  - "Profane" is a verb means "to pollute" and "to defile" especially meant to refer to the Sabbath. It is in the present tense.  Jesus only uses this verb hear. This often indicates that he might be echoing something said to him back to them. It is at the end of a clause, so it might be meant to shock.

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. 

sabbath, -- The word translated as the "the Sabbath day" is the Greek version of the Hebrew word "shabbat" meaning "rest" or "day of rest."  This noun is singular.

and -- The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and," but it also is used to add emphasis ("also").

are ) -- The verb "are" 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. It is the present tense.

blameless? -- "Blameless" is from an adjective means "not being at fault," "guiltless," and "not being the cause" of something. It means literally "not the cause." There is no English word that means that something is "not the cause." Of course, something that is not the cause is "blameless" but the sense is that they do not choose this, the law does. Jesus only uses this word twice.

KJV Translation Issues: 

3
  • WT - Wrong Tense - The verb "have" indicates the past perfect tense, but the tense is something that happens at a specific point in time (past, present, or future).
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "read" should be something more like "recognize."
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "how that" is usually translated as "for" and works more like our "because."

NIV : 

Matthew 12:5 And haven’t you read in the law of Moses that the priests on duty in the Temple may work on the Sabbath?

NIV Analysis: 

Or -- "Or" is translated from a Greek word that means primarily "or" but serves as "than" in a comparison. The same word could also be the exclamation "hi" or the adverb meaning "in truth."

have -- (WT) This helping verb "have" indicates that the verb is the tense indicating an action completed in the past. This is not the tense of the verb here.

n't -- The Greek word translated as "not" is the Greek negative used to deny objective facts, not opinions. It means "no," "not," or"no truly." It makes a negative statement of fact. A

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

read -  (WW) "Read" is a Greek verb that means "to know well," "to persuade," and "to recognize." It doesn't mean "read" in the normal sense (nor is it the word that Christ uses normally for "read,") but it can mean "to read aloud" or "to attend a lecture." This perhaps refers to the Jewish practice of reading the Scriptures at meetings.

in   -- The word translated as "in" means "in," "within," "with," "during" (time),  or "among"  with a dative object as the one here. 

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. 

law,  - "Law" is translated from a Greek word that means "that which is in habitual usage," "custom," and "tradition." The word's translation to the "law" is a special use from the Bible. The sense is much more that the Moses' books of the Old Testament are the "traditions" of the Jews. See this article.

of Moses -- (IW) There is nothing that can be translated as "of Moses" in the Greek source.

that  -  "That" this is a word that means "that" or "because." What follows is a clause that explains a cause. In English, we would often start a new sentence. This also often indicates that Jesus is answering a question.

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. 

priests  - The word translated as "the priests" is the noun that we translated as "priest" or "sacrificer" but it is also the noun form of the verb meaning "to consecrate" or "to dedicate" so "the ones consecrating" or "the ones dedicating." It has the same root as the word translated as "temple" from the idea of "consecrated."

on duty  -- (IP) There is nothing that can be translated as "on duty" in the Greek source.

untranslated "the"  -- (MW) The untranslated word 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. 

untranslated "Sabbaths"  -- (MW) The untranslated word is the Greek version of the Hebrew word "shabbat" meaning "rest" or "day of rest."   It is plural here, "sabbaths."

in   -- The word translated as "in" means "in," "within," "with," "during" (time),  or "among"  with a dative object as the one here. 

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. 

temple   - "The temple" is a word related to the one above, from the same root, which means literally "holy place" or "temple." Both come from the root word, which means "super-human," "mighty," "divine," "wonderful" and "holy." This makes "holy man" a "wonderful man" and a "holy place," a "wonderful place."

may work -- (IP) There is nothing that can be translated as "may work" in the Greek source.

untranslated "defile"  -- (MW) The untranslated word  is a verb means "to pollute" and "to defile" especially meant to refer to the Sabbath. It is in the present tense.  Jesus only uses this verb here. This often indicates that he might be echoing something said to him back to them. It is at the end of a clause, so it might be meant to shock.

on -- (IW) There is nothing that can be translated as "on" in the Greek source.  The first plural "Sabbath" was in the dative form which requires a preposition like "on," but this on is the object of "profane" not an indirect object.

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. 

sabbath, -- The word translated as the "the Sabbath day" is the Greek version of the Hebrew word "shabbat" meaning "rest" or "day of rest."  This noun is singular.

untranslated "and"  -- (MW) The untranslated word "and" is used as the conjunction "and," but it also is used to add emphasis ("also").

untranslated "are"  -- (MW) The untranslated word "are" 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. It is the present tense.

untranslated "not the cause"  -- (MW) The untranslated word "blameless"  in the KJV is from an adjective means "not being at fault," "guiltless," and "not being the cause" of something. It means literally "not the cause." There is no English word that means that something is "not the cause." Of course, something that is not the cause is "blameless" but the sense is that they do not choose this, the law does. Jesus only uses this word twice.

NIV Translation Issues: 

12
  • WT - Wrong Tense - The verb "have" indicates the past perfect tense, but the tense is something that happens at a specific point in time (past, present, or future).
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "read" should be something more like "recognize."
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "of Moses" doesn't exist in the source.
  • IP - Inserted Phrase-- The phrase "on duty" doesn't exist in the source.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "Sabbaths" is not shown in the English translation.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "Sabbaths" is not shown in the English translation.
  • IP - Inserted Phrase-- The phrase "may work" doesn't exist in the source.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "defile" is not shown in the English translation.
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "on" doesn't exist in the source.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "and" is not shown in the English translation.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "are" not shown in the English translation.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "blameless" not shown in the English translation.

Unimportant Opinions and Imaginings: 

“David was the anointed king!” responded the Distinguished. “As king, he made his own law, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t defiling in the Law. Or are you claiming to be a king?”
“Or don’t ‘t you recognized it in the Law?” responded the Master, recognizing the trap of claiming to be a king.
“You talk in circles,” responded the Distinguished leader. “Why does the law approve of your students defiling the Sabbath?”
“Because on these Sabbaths, the priests in the temple defile this Sabbath, and they are guiltless.”

"Are you suggesting your students are the same as priests?"

The Master smiled at the question.

Front Page Date: 

Oct 24 2020