Footnotes That Magnify Jehovah God
HAVE you ever paid attention to the footnotes in fine print that appear at the bottom of the page of some Bible translations? Or have you usually been in too much of a hurry? If you have passed over them you have been missing items that are not only interesting but also faith strengthening. While not all footnotes are of the same value, many of those found in the large-print edition of the New World Translation (NW) do help us better to appreciate Jehovah God.
For example, this edition has a footnote at Genesis 5:22 that shows why this translation renders ha Elohim as “the true God.” This rendering is based on the authority of the noted Hebrew scholar Gesenius, who shows that the definite article “ha” is used “when terms applying to whole classes are restricted (simply by usage) to particular individuals,” and then other examples are cited in the Greek, such as ho theos, which, as he says, literally means “the one true God.” One looks in vain in other translations for this distinction between Elohim and ha Elohim.
Another example of how this edition (NW) helps us better to appreciate Jehovah is by its expression “Sovereign Lord Jehovah.” Even those versions that render the Tetragrammaton as “Jehovah” or “Yahweh” read only “Lord Jehovah” or “Lord Yahweh.” Why does the New World Translation add “Sovereign”? Because, as shown in the footnote on Genesis 15:2, the term Adonay, usually rendered “Lord” in such instances, is in the plural of excellence, literally “Lords Jehovah.” Since the plural is that of excellence rather than of number, the New World Translation adds “Sovereign” to show that this Lord is no ordinary Lord. Truly Jehovah is not ordinary, but is a very special Lord, the Sovereign Lord.
A similar explanation is given in the footnote on Ecclesiastes 12:1, for the expression “Grand Creator.” There we are told that “the Hebrew participle of the verb ‘create’ is here in the plural number of grandeur or excellence.” The title “Creator” in the singular would not do justice to the original, and so, most fittingly, the expression “Grand Creator” is used. Again, it is hard to find other translations that take cognizance of this fact, an exception being Young’s, which, however, reads: “Remember also thy Creators in days of thy youth.” Does that mean that there is more than one Creator? The Soncino Bible footnote on this text explains: “If the noun is construed as plural, it is the ‘plural of majesty.’ ‘This designation of God was chosen as laying stress on Him as the ultimate cause and designer of our bodily frame.’”
Enlightening also is the footnote appearing at Deuteronomy 18:5, NW. It tells of a fragment of the Greek Septuagint Version containing this verse, which fragment goes back to the second century B.C.E. In it “a Greek rendering of ‘Jehovah your God’ does not occur . . . but the Hebrew tetragrammaton (יהוה, YHWH) for God’s name is written in. This, besides occurrences in other fragments of this papyrus collection, indicates that Jehovah’s name did appear in the form of the Hebrew tetragrammaton in the book of Deuteronomy of the Greek Septuagint, if not in all its Pentateuch.” This is of great interest, for it indicates that Septuagint copies used in Jesus’ day likely contained the Hebrew tetragrammaton.
Then again, at Exodus 23:28 many translations read that God would send “hornets” or “the hornet” ahead of the Israelites to drive out the Canaanites before them. (See Authorized Version, American Standard Version, The Jerusalem Bible, The New American Bible, Revised Standard Version.) This rendering might be said to reflect upon God’s truthfulness, for the Scriptures contain no reference to his actually sending hornets ahead of the Israelites. However, the footnote of the 1971 New World Translation quotes the German Bible scholar Ludwig Koehler to show that the Hebrew word here corresponds with the Arabic word meaning “dejectedness; discouragement; abasement.” Accordingly, the New World Translation reads that Jehovah would “send the feeling of dejection ahead of you.” This indeed was the case, for Rahab the harlot of Jericho told the two Israelite spies that “the fright of you has fallen upon us, and . . . all the inhabitants of the land have become disheartened because of you.” (Josh. 2:9-11) The New English Bible, at Exodus 23:28, in agreement with the New World Translation, says that God would “spread panic before you.”
Yes, the footnotes of the 1971 edition of the New World Translation do contribute to a better appreciation of Jehovah as the one true God, the Sovereign Lord and the Grand Creator who fulfills his promises.