“The Writing of Correct Words of Truth”
“The congregator sought to find the delightful words and the writing of correct words of truth.”—Eccl. 12:10.
1. When is a story of benefit and of real value to us?
WHO does not enjoy listening to a good story or reading one? If the story is presented in words that are skillfully chosen and expressed with a nicety of meaning, it adds to the delight that one experiences as the story unfolds. If it is a true-life story, it really becomes beneficial to us, when it is told without twisting things or without any exaggeration but with “words of truth” in a correct and impartial way. Thereby we are learning the truth that will endure and prevail and that will have real value for us.
2. In what usage does the storyteller himself delight, and what should be the case when we present a written message that means eternal life to those receiving it?
2 As for the storyteller himself, he too finds pleasure in presenting the story with words that even delight him in using them. Because he loves the truth and he desires to upbuild those who get absorbed in his story, he conscientiously tries to tell it correctly with “words of truth.” Such “words of truth” are the correct things for him to tell. Since this is the case with a mere story, how much more should it be the case when, by means of writing, we present a message that means eternal life to those receiving the message!
3. Why can Solomon be called such a sincere storyteller as that?
3 The wisest king of ancient times, Solomon of Jerusalem, was just such a sincere storyteller and message bearer. Have you ever read his scores of proverbs as contained in the Bible book of Proverbs? Or his beautiful love story as told in the Bible book of The Song of Solomon? Or his wisdom expressed in the Bible book of Ecclesiastes, written for people who want to know the purpose of life that in most cases seems to be so vain, frustrating? If you have read these Bible books, then you can appreciate the excellent choice of words that Solomon made to fit excellent ideas. How beautiful or true to life his proverbs are! How good his counsel!
4. Despite his being inspired, what did Solomon have to be and do, and where does he refer to this?
4 True, he was inspired by God’s spirit when writing his part of the Holy Bible. And yet he had to have a love for the truth, he had to exert himself, his mind, to express the truth in a winsome way with words of correct meaning. Things did not come to him automatically, of their own accord. He had to seek to find the truthful things to say or write and also seek the proper language in which to say them. The personal effort that was required on his part he writes about toward the close of his inspired book of Ecclesiastes. He says with reference to his own self: “The congregator sought to find the delightful words and the writing of correct words of truth.”—Eccl. 12:10.
5. (a) What did Solomon call himself, and what responsibility did this lay upon him? (b) In what way was he an example for us?
5 Notice that Solomon calls himself “the congregator,” and not a mere “preacher.” A “congregator” of whom was Solomon? It was of God’s own congregation, the congregation of Solomon’s own people, God’s ancient chosen nation. This made the responsibility of Solomon all the greater, for this congregation in particular deserved to have the truth told and written to them. To live up to what he called himself, Qoheleth in the Hebrew, or “congregator” in English, he tried to gather his people together into a unity; he as King had to speak, write and teach in such a way as to keep them united as worshipers of the one living and true God, whom Solomon called Jehovah. Solomon knew the importance of words, the hidden power of words. Therefore, in behalf of what he spoke, wrote and taught, he endeavored to think up the “delightful words,” the “correct words.” Solomon succeeded magnificently, and in this he set an example for us.
6, 7. (a) Of what importance are words to thinking, and from where did man get thinking ability? (b) That this is no mere tradition made out of imagination, what written record do we have in the Bible?
6 Could you even think without words? No! The lower creatures, animals, birds, fishes, insects, do not think; they act by instinct and respond to sounds and sights and feelings. Thinking must be done in language. Language must be expressed in words that are grammatically connected together to frame an idea, a mental conception. Human creatures can think. Where did they get this thinking ability? Not from some brainless, mindless living cell, chemically created, that developed itself and ascended the ladder of life to become a man or woman. It must have come to human creatures from outside. It must have come from a thinker, one who is acquainted with thinking, who knows how it works, who has created a brain. Thinking ability must have come from outside. It is a gift! From what or from whom? Only from the Creator, from God. This fact is not a mere human tradition manufactured out of imagination. There is a record of it in written words, which, translated into modern English, read:
7 “And God went on to say: ‘Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness, and let them have in subjection the fish of the sea and the flying creatures of the heavens and the domestic animals and all the earth and every moving animal that is moving upon the earth.’ And God proceeded to create the man in his image, in God’s image he created him; male and female he created them. Further, God blessed them and God said to them: ‘Be fruitful and become many and fill the earth and subdue it, and have in subjection the fish of the sea and the flying creatures of the heavens and every living creature that is moving upon the earth.’”—Gen. 1:26-28.
8. (a) How do we know whether, when making that statement regarding man’s creation, He was talking to himself or not? (b) How did God thus show himself to be the creator of speech, language, grammar?
8 This record presents God as a Thinker, as a Talker, and the Creator of human creatures with brains in their skulls. Before God talked, saying: “Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness,” God thought. In order to think he brought words containing ideas to mind. Before he made any intelligent creature, he was thinking, and he needed the companionship of no other living person. He did not talk to himself, even though he thought with idea-bearing words. When, according to Genesis 1:26, he said: “Let us make,” he was not talking to himself in expression of his personal decision. He was talking to at least someone else. According to the rest of the Bible, this other person was his first creation, a heavenly creation, his first spirit son, made directly by God without any agency. God purposed to commune with that Son. So God created him with thinking ability and with its proper accompaniment, the ability to speak. At once that Son could speak, could frame words and put them together in a grammatical way. Thus God created speech, he created language, and, since language requires grammar, He created grammar.
9. How did God then use this Son, thereby showing himself further to be the creator of language and the greatest Grammarian?
9 What language God spoke with this first son of His we do not know. (Rev. 3:14; Col. 1:15-18) Then by the agency of this Son God created other spirit creatures, cherubic creatures, seraphic creatures, angels. God formed their original language for them, according to the capabilities of these speaking creatures. He created all their vocal powers, to speak their language with the appropriate grammatical style. He invented their grammar for them. God is the greatest Grammarian. These spirit creatures understood when God talked to them, and they could answer in an understandable way to him.—Ps. 103:20.
10. (a) What language does the Academy of Languages not list, and why not? (b) If the apostle Paul had been able to speak those languages, what would he have had to have besides in order to be no mere sound maker?
10 That list of languages that has been compiled by the modern Academy of Languages does not include any angelic language, for men have never heard it and do not know what it is like. The Academy may laugh at such a thing. But that first-century man of rich spiritual experience, the Christian apostle Paul, speaks of angelic language, when he writes: “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels but do not have love, I have become a sounding piece of brass or a clashing cymbal.” (1 Cor. 13:1) Paul could speak in a number of languages or tongues, at least in Hebrew and Greek of the first century of our Common Era. He did not speak in any tongue of angels, and doubtless could not, because angels have vocal capacities that are beyond the range of man. But even if Paul had been able to speak in the tongue of angels and yet did not have Godlike love as a motive for speaking and doing, he would be like a resonant piece of brass or a clashing cymbal. Just like Satan the Devil and his spirit demons, who speak in the tongue of angels, but who have no love but have murderous hate.
11. (a) In what language did God’s angel speak with Abraham, making what promise after his attempted sacrifice of Isaac? (b) In what languages was the Bible written, and by whose offspring?
11 Consequently, when God sent his angels to talk with men, they talked in the human language of the one or ones to whom they spoke, not in the language that angels speak among themselves in heaven. We have records to indicate that they talked with men to whom they materialized or appeared in visions, in Hebrew, Aramaic and first-century Greek, the languages in which the Holy Bible was written. For example, God, by means of his angel, said to Abraham the Hebrew right after he showed his willingness to offer up his son Isaac as a religious sacrifice: “I shall surely bless you and I shall surely multiply your seed like the stars . . . And by means of your seed all nations of the earth will certainly bless themselves due to the fact that you have listened to my voice.” (Gen. 22:17, 18) Abraham understood what was said from heaven, and he rejoiced in the hope that, one day, all nations of the earth would be blessed through his offspring. It is interesting to note that all the books of the Holy Bible were written by members of Abraham’s offspring, for people of all nations to read and understand to their lasting benefit.
12. In what language did an angel speak to Daniel, and what did he say in explanation of a Kingdom vision?
12 Centuries later Abraham’s greatly multiplied offspring included the prophet Daniel. In the city of Babylon on the Euphrates River, an angel appeared to Daniel in “visions during the night” and spoke to him in Aramaic. In explanation of the visions given to Daniel, the Aramaic-speaking angel said: “And the kingdom and the rulership and the grandeur of the kingdoms under all the heavens were given to the people who are the holy ones of the Supreme One. Their kingdom is an indefinitely lasting kingdom, and all the rulerships will serve and obey even them.” (Dan. 7:1-4, 23, 27) Daniel wrote these visions down in Aramaic.
13. What Kingdom announcement, and in what language, did John hear loud voices in heaven make?
13 In the last listed book of the Holy Bible, in the revelation that was given to the Christian apostle John about the year 96 C.E., he heard loud voices in heaven, saying: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will rule as king forever and ever.” (Rev. 11:15) John wrote this down in the common Greek of the first century.
INVENTION OF MANY HUMAN LANGUAGES
14, 15. (a) What question arises today, since we are all the descendants of those who spoke the one original language? (b) What message of peace, and in what language, did God’s angel give to the Flood survivors?
14 Today there are many more languages than the Hebrew, Aramaic and common Greek in which God’s Word, the Holy Bible, was written. One of the important things that adds to the reasons for our not having worldwide peace today is the fact that we have so many languages, so that we cannot directly understand one another. Why is it that, since we all descended from the first man and woman whom God created in the Garden of Eden, we do not today all speak the same language as those first two humans did? The prophet Noah and his seven fellow passengers, who survived the global deluge of forty-three centuries ago, all spoke the same language in the ark in which they were preserved alive. It was the same language as that of the first human pair, only enlarged throughout the 1,656 years from the first man’s creation down to the Deluge. Following that Deluge after Noah and his fellow survivors came out of the ark upon Mount Ararat in southwest Asia, God spoke to them by means of his angel. He caused a symbol of peace, the rainbow, to appear, and gave them a message of peace. In their one language he said:
15 “Be fruitful and become many and fill the earth. . . . My rainbow I do give in the cloud, and it must serve as a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. And it shall occur that when I bring a cloud over the earth, then the rainbow will certainly appear in the cloud. And I shall certainly remember my covenant which is between me and you and every living soul among all flesh; and no more will the waters become a deluge to bring all flesh to ruin.”—Gen. 9:1, 13-15.
16. For about how long did mankind continue to have one language, and by whom was the decision made to have language groups, and why?
16 For over two generations, or around a hundred and eighty years, after the Deluge, the language of Noah and his descendants continued to be one. The “writing of correct words of truth” as found in the inspired Bible says: “Now all the earth continued to be of one language and of one set of words.” (Eccl. 12:10; Gen. 11:1) Well, then, did men at that point of time decide to do something academic or collegiate and start speaking different languages? No! Why should they hit upon the idea of doing this? Rather, it was God who then decided to invent new human languages. He foreknew the divisive power of a confusion of languages among men. He saw good to break them up into language groups and thereby make it difficult for them to understand one another and to get along together.
17. On what project were men working in the plains of Shinar, and how did God give that project a great setback?
17 At that particular time those descendants of Noah who had moved down into the plains of Shinar in Mesopotamia were united in a bad work, contrary to God’s will as stated to Noah and his sons after the Deluge. Speaking the one commonly understood language, these rebellious people decided to build a city there as a center of religious worship, with a skyscraping tower, and thus to make a celebrated name for themselves. In order to give this project a great setback, Almighty God decided to break up their unity of action by inventing and implanting different languages in them, wiping out all memory of their previous common language. Suddenly, while working harmoniously together on their God-defying building project, the various ones began speaking different languages and fell into a confusion that forced them to break relations with one another and to separate. Apparently only one language group remained at the incomplete city and its religious tower, under Nimrod.
18. (a) What shows that this was nothing of human invention, but was a divine miracle? (b) Why was the language miracle on the day of Pentecost among Christ’s disciples still more remarkable?
18 How could such a thing happen, instantaneously, if it was not from God Almighty? He gave to each group a different language with its own grammar and set of words, so that immediately they started speaking the new language perfectly. It was not of human invention, and by this miraculous feat God showed that he was the Master Grammarian, the greatest Grammarian down till today. This was no forerunner of the festival day of Pentecost of the year 33 C.E., when God’s holy spirit was poured out upon the one hundred and twenty disciples of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem and they suddenly began speaking in many languages that they had never studied and learned. However, that ancient event on the plains of Shinar illustrated, exemplified, what Almighty God could do later, on the day of Pentecost at Jerusalem. And, what was more remarkable, those disciples of Jesus Christ, though suddenly gifted with the power to speak new languages, did not forget their original language, the Hebrew. So they did not fall into confusion and separate. God’s one spirit upon them kept them united in preaching His kingdom.—Acts 2:1-21.
19. (a) What is the meaning of the name given to the city, and from it what was carried away besides new languages? (b) Whose language was not changed, and why?
19 Because of the confusion of languages that arose away back there on the plains of Shinar the city whose building program was terribly set back was called Babel. Quite fittingly so, for this name means “Confusion.” The Greek-speaking people called it Babylonia. (Gen. 11:2-9) This happened in the days of Nimrod, the great-grandson of Noah. Nimrod came to be called “a mighty hunter in opposition to Jehovah,” and Genesis 10:8-10 calls this mighty hunter the first king of Babel, for “the beginning of his kingdom came to be Babel.” From this city the various language groups that left off building the city carried the false Babylonish religion to the various parts of the earth to which they were scattered. The human family had now become a polyglot race or many-tongued race. The prophet Noah and his God-fearing son Shem did not take part in building the city and tower of Babel. Hence their language was not changed. They continued to speak to each other the same original language.—Gen. 9:26-29.
20. (a) What new profession arose, and who made use of it during a famine in ancient Egypt? (b) In the case of whom was there inspired translation or interpretation?
20 Because of the confusion of languages that God started at Babel, a new profession arose, that of interpreter or translator. So it came about that, on one occasion, a descendant of Shem, namely, Joseph the great-grandson of Abraham, used an interpreter. Jealous brothers of his had sold him as a slave into Egypt, but, thirteen years later, God caused Joseph to become the prime minister and food administrator of Egypt because of a foretold world famine. When, during the actual famine, his brothers came down to Egypt to buy food supplies, they did not recognize Joseph. Among other things that concealed his identity, Joseph did not speak to them in Hebrew, and so used an Egyptian-Hebrew interpreter. As Genesis 42:23 says: “There was an interpreter between them.” That was in the eighteenth century before our Common Era. Since then interpreters have multiplied. Such interpreters were not inspired. Only in the case of the Christian congregation, to whom the miraculous gift of speaking in foreign languages was given in the days of Christ’s apostles, was the miraculous gift of interpreting languages also given.—1 Cor. 14:13-28.
TRANSLATION OF THE BIBLE
21. (a) For an accurate translation, the choosing of what would be necessary, and what would an absolutely perfect translation require? (b) When were the Hebrew-Aramaic Scriptures translated, and what was this first translation called?
21 For an accurate translation to be made or a true interpretation to be given, there must be the use of correct words in the one language that correspond with those in the language that is being interpreted or translated. In the days of the Christian apostles the interpretations that were made by those Christians gifted with the miraculous power of interpretation or translation would be perfect, absolutely correct, for the interpretation would be inspired. (1 Cor. 12:4-11, 27-30) The most important writings to be interpreted are the Sacred Scriptures, the Holy Bible. By the time of the fifth century before our Common Era the God-inspired writings in Hebrew and Aramaic were completed in the form of thirty-nine books, as now reckoned. After the common Greek became the international language in the following century, a translation of those Sacred Scriptures from Hebrew into Greek was begun by Greek-speaking Jews in Alexandria in Egypt. It became known as the Greek Septuagint Version, or LXX, because of the tradition that some seventy Jewish translators were originally connected with it. Septuaginta means “Seventy.”
22. (a) Was this first translation inspired, and was such a translation contrary to God’s will and spirit? (b) When writing the inspired Greek Scriptures, how did Christ’s disciples make quotations from the Hebrew Scriptures, and why?
22 The Greek Septuagint Version of the Hebrew Scriptures was not inspired by God’s spirit, but was not contrary to God’s spirit. It was God’s will that his inspired Word should be translated into as many languages of the world as possible before his kingdom by Jesus Christ takes over complete control of all the earth. In writing the inspired Greek Scriptures, in twenty-seven books, four of Christ’s apostles and four of his other disciples quoted hundreds of times from the inspired Hebrew Scriptures. Sometimes they quoted directly from the Greek Septuagint Version; at other times they made their own direct translations from the Hebrew Scriptures. This was done to show that those Hebrew Scriptures were really God’s “words of truth” and that they were undergoing fulfillment in connection with the Christian congregation and its work of preaching God’s kingdom.
23. (a) How did Jesus Christ indicate indirectly that the Bible would have to be translated into many languages? (b) When did his disciples catch the import of this, and how did they work at it?
23 When Jesus Christ, the Son of God, spoke to his disciples after his resurrection from the dead and some days before his ascension to heaven, he indicated that the Sacred Scriptures, the Holy Bible, would have to be translated into many languages. He said: “All authority has been given me in heaven and on the earth. Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit, teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you.” (Matt. 28:18-20) He had also prophesied earlier: “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.” (Matt. 24:14) After the outpouring of God’s holy spirit upon them on the day of Pentecost of 33 C.E., Christ’s disciples caught the import of those words and began translating and writing down translations of the Holy Scriptures in the languages of the nations among whom they were preaching God’s kingdom and making disciples. Reportedly, the apostle Matthew wrote his Gospel first in Hebrew and then put it in Greek.
24. (a) Knowing the Bible to be a literary masterpiece, what did conscientious translators endeavor to do? (b) What has been the progress of Bible translation, and what society today ranks among the leading societies printing and distributing Bibles?
24 Shortly translations of the Sacred Scriptures were made in the ancient languages then prevalent, such as Latin, Syriac, Ethiopic, Arabic, Persian, and so forth. The translators knew that the Holy Bible is a literary masterpiece, and conscientiously they strove to render it in different languages by the use of “delightful words” and “correct words of truth” that faithfully carried the thought of the inspired Scriptures. In spite of tremendous opposition on the part of the dominant religious body of Christendom the translation of the Holy Bible into the languages of the common people has gone forward till now. Today there are translations of the Holy Bible available in 1,337 or more languages, either in whole or in part. Societies have been formed for the printing and distribution of the inspired Scriptures. Today one of the leading Bible printing and publishing societies is the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society of Pennsylvania, with its branches in ninety-four lands and island groups.
[Picture on page 685]
The workers on the God-defying Tower of Babel suddenly began speaking different languages and fell into disrupting confusion