Matthew 23:4 For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne,

KJV Verse: 

Mat 23:4 For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

They, however, chain terrible weights and impose [them] upon people's shoulders. They, however, really do not want to remove them [from under] their thumbs.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

This verse uses a number of Greek words that Christ doesn't commonly used. So many that they are noted in the vocabulary section, a practice these articles will continue from now on. A number of the terms here also have double meanings regarding pregnancy. There are also differences between the KJV source and today's better Greek sources.

The Greek word translated as "but" joins phrases in an adversarial way. Since it always falls in the second position, translating it as "however" often captures its feeling better.

"Bind" is from an uncommon (for Christ) Greek word that means "to fetter", "to put in chains", "to tie together," and "to lay snares for." It is not the same word translated as "bind" in the previous verse, Mat 23:3.

The Greek word translated as "heavy" (also uncommon) means "heavy in weight", "heavy with age, infirmity or suffering", "grievous", "oppressive", "causing disgust," and many other negative ideas. This negativity comes from the idea that negative things fall to earth and positive ones fly to the heavens. Its only positive meaning is "pregnant."

"Burdens" is another uncommon Greek word that means "load", "burden," and, in plural (as it is here) means "merchandise" and "wares." It is also a term for a "a child in the womb."

There is no word for "grievous to be born" in the Greek source we use today. It was likely added as an expansion of the meaning for "heavy" above.

"Lay" is from another uncommon Greek word for Christ that means "to lay", "to put", "to impose," and "to place upon." Christ commonly uses its root form that also means "to put" but this version has a prefix emphasizing the idea of the being putting "upon" or "against" something.

There is no "them" in the Greek source, it is added for clarity in English.

The word translated as "on" means "against", "before", "by" or "on." It is the same word used in the prefix of the verb "lay" used above.

The Greek word for "men's" in the singular means "person" and "humanity" and "people" and "peoples" in the plural.

The Greek word "shoulders" means the "shoulder and upper arm" together, but it is used more generally like the word "shoulder" in English.

The Greek word translated as"but" joins phrases in an adversarial way. Since it always falls in the second position, translating it as "however" often captures its feeling better.

The word translated as "they" is the Greek word commonly translated as pronouns in English, but it has a few shades of meaning our pronouns do not have. However, since the form of the subject is a part of the verb, this pronoun is only used as the subject to emphasize it.

The Greek word translated as "will" is not the same as the helper verb "will" in English, which primarily expresses the future tense. Its primary purpose is to express consent and even a delight in doing something. It means "to consent" and "to be resolved to a purpose".

 

The Greek word translated as "not" is the Greek negative used to deny objective facts, not opinions. It makes a negative statement of fact. Adding "really" to the sentence to captures the same idea.

"Move" is from kineô, which means "to set in motion", "to move", "to remove", "to change," and "to disturb." While "move" is the most common meaning, it just doesn't make sense here where the idea of "remove" fits better.

"Finger" is from another uncommon (for Christ) Gree word that means "fingers", "toes", "the thumb" "an inch," and "a digit." It is used in the same sense that we might say, "keeping someone under your thumb." Since the term also means "toes", under someone's foot also works best.

Greek Vocabulary: 

δεσμεύουσιν [uncommon] (verb 3rd pl pres ind act) "They bind" is from desmeuo, which means "fetter", "put in chains", "tie together", "to lay snares for," and "bind fast to."

δὲ "But" is from de which means "but" and "on the other hand." It is the particle that joins sentences in an adversarial way but can also be a weak connective ("and") and explanation of cause ("so") and a condition ("if").

φορτία [uncommon](noun pl neut nom/acc) "Burdens" is from phortion, which means "load", "burden", "freight" and "a child in the womb." In plural, it means "merchandise" and "wares."

βαρέα [uncommon] (adj pl neut nom) "Heavy" is from barys, which means "heavy in weight", "heavy of strength and force", "heavy with age, infirmity or suffering", "pregnant", "heavy, slow", "heavy to bear", "grievous", "burdensome," "oppressive", "causing disgust", "unwholesome," of persons, "severe", "stern", "wearisome", "troublesome", "overbearing," of sound, "strong", "deep", "bass," of smell, "strong," and "offensive."

καὶ "And" is from kai, which is the conjunction joining phrases and clauses, "and," or "but." 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."

ἐπιτιθέασιν [uncommon] (verb 3rd pl pres ind act) "Lay" is from epitithemi, which means "to lay", "to put", "to place upon", "to set upon", "to put on," and "to dispatch."

ἐπὶ "Against" is from epi. which means "on", "upon", "at", "by", "before", "across," and "against."

τοὺς ὤμους [uncommon] (noun pl masc acc) "Shoulders" is from homos, which means "the shoulder with the upper arm," "the shoulder", "the parts below the top or head of any thing," esp. of the fork of a vine, and "the womb."

τῶν ἀνθρώπων, (noun pl masc gen) "Of man" is from anthropos, which is "man," and, in plural, "mankind." It also means "humanity" and that which is human and opposed to that which is animal or inanimate.

αὐτοὶ (adj pl masc nom) "They themselves" is from autos, which means "the same," and the reflexive pronouns, "myself", "yourself", "himself", "herself", "itself," or the oblique case of the pronouns, "him", "her," and "it." It also means "one's true self," that is, "the soul" as opposed to the body and "of one's own accord."

δὲ "But" is from de which means "but" and "on the other hand." It is the particle that joins sentences in an adversarial way but can also be a weak connective ("and") and explanation of cause ("so") and a condition ("if"). -- The Greek word translated as"but" joins phrases in an adversarial way. Since it always falls in the second position, translating it as "however" often captures its feeling better.

τῷ δακτύλῳ [uncommon] "fingers" is from daktylos, which means "finger", "thumb", "toes," a measure of length, "finger's breadth," "date," and "a kind of grape."

αὐτῶν (adj pl masc/fem gen) "Their" is from autos, which means "the same," and the reflexive pronouns, "myself", "yourself", "himself", "herself", "itself," or the oblique case of the pronouns, "him", "her," and "it." It also means "one's true self," that is, "the soul" as opposed to the body and "of one's own accord." -

οὐ "Not" is from ou which is the negative adverb for facts and statements, negating both single 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.

θέλουσιν "Will" is from thelo, which as a verb means "to be willing (of consent rather than desire)", "to wish", "to ordain", "to decree", "to be resolved to a purpose" "to maintain", "to hold", "to delight in, and "will (too express a future event)." As an adverb, "willingly," and "gladly." and "to desire." As an adjective, it means "wished for" and "desired."

κινῆσαι [uncommon] (verb aor inf act) "Move" is from kineo, which means to "set in motion, "set in motion" a process of law, "remove" a thing from its place, "change", "innovate", "arouse", "set going", "cause", "call forth," Pass., "to be put in motion", "go," of persons, "to be moved", "stirred," of soldiers, "move forward," "to be disturbed or in rebellion."

αὐτά. (adj pl neut nom/acc) "Them" is from autos, which means "the same," and the reflexive pronouns, "myself", "yourself", "himself", "herself", "itself," or the oblique case of the pronouns, "him", "her," and "it." It also means "one's true self," that is, "the soul" as opposed to the body and "of one's own accord." -

Related Verses: