Questions From Readers
● Why does the New World Translation at Matthew 5:5 read, “Happy are the mild-tempered ones,” while at Psalm 37:11 it reads, “the meek ones”?—D. B., United States.
The reason why Psalm 37:11, in the New World Translation, reads “the meek ones” is because the Hebrew word ‛anáv, there rendered “meek,” has the thought of “poor, humble, meek,” rather than mild tempered. ‛Anáv is therefore consistently rendered “meek” throughout the Hebrew Scriptures of the New World Translation. According to the American College Dictionary, one who is meek is “one humbly patient or submissive, as under provocation from others.”
Now as to Matthew 5:5, it should be noted that Jesus was not reading or quoting directly from a Hebrew scroll of the Psalms. As to the New World Translation rendering, it is true that the expression “mild-tempered ones” might have been rendered another way, such as “meek ones.” Why, then, “mild-tempered ones”?
Many persons are familiar with the King James Version rendering of Matthew 5:5, “Blessed are the meek.” Many have also got the idea that what Jesus meant was ‘blessed are the teachable.’ So the expression has often been made that to be meek is to be teachable. True, he who is meek is teachable, but being teachable is only one of the qualities a meek person has. Moreover, the basic meaning of the original Greek word at Matthew 5:5 is not “teachable.” According to the two-volume Greek-English Lexicon by Liddell and Scott the Greek word in Matthew 5:5 means, respecting persons, “mild, gentle, meek,” and the adverbial form of it means “mildly, gently.” Interestingly, The New English Bible, at Matthew 5:5, reads: “How blest are those of a gentle spirit.”
Also the Greek-English Lexicon by Westcott and Hort states regarding this Greek word, praús or práos: “Mild temper, and, of animals, tame, gentle. Matthew 5:5 (Here the AV and AS render it meek, but the words never did, at any time, or in any passage of any other author signify meek.)”
The New World Translation Committee, by rendering the Greek word “mild-tempered,” believes it has attained a far superior rendering than “meek.” The New World Translation rendering defines the Greek word and does not leave it up to any reader to attach an arbitrary meaning to the word, such as saying that “meek” means “teachable.”
● Does the scripture at Psalm 34:7, “The angel of Jehovah is camping all around those fearing him, and he rescues them,” have application to rescue from natural disasters such as floods and earthquakes?—R. E., United States.
This scripture must be understood in the light of its context. The superscription to Psalm 34 sup says: “Of David, at the time of his disguising his sanity before Abimelech, so that he drove him out, and he went away.” So David is speaking against a background of his being in enemy territory, where he had to disguise himself by pretending to be insane before King Abimelech (also called Achish) in order not to be executed by this Philistine king, who might otherwise have viewed David as an intelligent, scheming, spying Israelite. Under such circumstances Jehovah’s angel preserved David and rescued him. This is very different from rescuing one from a flood or an earthquake. The circumstances are entirely different, and they have no relationship to each other.—1 Sam. 21:10-15.
When it comes to floods and storms, Jehovah’s people have to heed storm warnings just like everyone else. True, the tendency of many persons is to ignore warnings, as some have done regarding hurricanes and floods, so losing their lives. Those who choose to ignore warnings, thinking ‘it cannot happen to me,’ must accept the consequences.
Protection after Armageddon is something else. Even Armageddon may not end earthquakes. We cannot be dogmatic and say that Armageddon will immediately bring the entire globe, internally and externally, to its finished condition and hence there will not need to be any alterations in the interior or on the surface of the earth. But should these be necessary during the progress of the thousand years, God can direct the course of these, and he can bring about the protection of his people from any harm or loss, in harmony with the promise at Revelation 21:4.