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Lesson 10.0 Basic Word Study
This week we will learn a very basic form of word study. A word study is when you find a word from the Bible and look it up in its original Hebrew or Greek.
Let’s first review a few points. The Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew/Aramaic and the New Testament was written in Greek. There have been many translators who’ve translated the Bible into English as well as other languages and none of the translations are “purer” than others because the word “love,” for example, encompasses several different original Bible words so sometimes we need to know the Bible word that was originally written to mean love if we want a better understanding of the text.
We don’t have to rely on scholars or teachers to give us this information, the tools are available to us at the library and at church and at the bookstore. We just need to know what to look for. There is something called a Greek Lexicon or a Hebrew Lexicon and they are valuable tools; however, for the average Bible student they go very deep and you have to understand the Greek or Hebrew alphabets to be able to use them. If you’d like more information on these, you’ll have to seek out that information and it is out there, but it will be a significant investment of your time.
One of the simplest ways to do a word study is with a King James Bible and Strong’s Concordance. The Strong’s concordance was made specifically to give definition to every word used in the King James translation. You will notice that the word, “cometh,” is not in the NIV. There are concordances written for other translations as well, but the Strong’s has been proven and used for many years. Another tool that is good to use with the Strong’s Concordance is a Webster’s Dictionary that was published in 1828. Why that year? That was the year that the King James Bible was first written, so in order to understand the definitions of the period, we need a dictionary of that period. One of the words in the KJV is “thong.” Today’s definition is not the same as the previous. John was saying that he wasn’t worthy of untying Jesus’ sandals … it had nothing to do with undergarments. While that example may be humorous, there are others that could make our understanding of His Word a little skewed.
The first step in doing a word study is finding the word you’d like to search out.
Let’s start with just one verse. Isaiah 55:6 KJV “Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near.”
If we open the concordance to MAIN CONCORDANCE, there are headers on the left upper corner of the left page and right upper corner of the right page just like a dictionary.
We will start with SEEK as it is the first word in the passage.
Once we find the word SEEK in the Main Concordance section we will look for “Isa 55:6” to give us the Strong’s number for the word, SEEK. Some English words have multiple Hebrew words that could mean the same thing. In Isaiah 55:6, SEEK is given the Strong’s number “1875.” Notice that this number is in standard type and some other numbers are in italics. Standard type is Hebrew and italics are Greek words.
We are not at the end of this search. Now we need to go to the next section of Strong’s that is the HEBREW AND CHALDEE DICTIONARY and find number 1875. You will find a similar entry to this:
dârash, daw-rash'; A primitive root; properly to tread or frequent; usually to follow (for pursuit or search); by implication to seek or ask; specifically to worship: - ask, X at all, care for, X diligently, inquire, make inquisition, [necro-] mancer, question, require, search, seek [for, out], X surely.
This may be a bit confusing to look at, but we can gather from this entry that the possible meanings of this word are to follow; by implication to seek or ask; specifically to worship. The words that follow that are not in italics are possible translations of the word in to English.
That is just the first word of the verse. Follow the same steps for the rest of the words in the verse. Words like "ye," "with," and "the" are actually found between the Main Concordance and the Hebrew and Chaldee Dictionary in a section they refer to as Appendix as they are quite frequently used. Also remember that some phrases in English are only one word in other languages and vice versa. The only way to find out the exact original text is to use the original text and go back to English. This is an imperfect way of word study, but it is effective for the basic scholar.
These instructions do sound complicated, but once you’ve looked up a few words, you’ll begin to get the hang of it. If you recall, we discussed e-Sword in a previous lesson. If you look at the translation KJV+, the program has done the footwork for you. Instead of using standard lettering and italics, they use numbers like H1875 and G111. If you hover over the number, the Hebrew and Chaldee Dictionary or the Greek Dictionary of the New Testament entry will appear in a pop-up box. This method saves a lot of time, but not every word of every verse has a number associated with it.
Then we can also look up the words in the Webster’s 1828 Dictionary. Here is the entry for Seek as copied from e-Sword:
SEEK, v.t. pret and pp. sought, pronounced sawt. [L. sequor, to follow; for to seek is to go after, and the primary sense is to advance, to press, to drive forward, as in the L. peto.]
1. To go in searh or quest of; to look for; to search for by going from place to place.
The man asked him, saying, what seekest thou? And he said, I seek my brethen.
2. To inquire for; to ask for; to solicit; to endeavor to find or gain by any means.
The young lions roar after their prey, and seek their meat from God. Psa 104.
He found no place for repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears. Heb 12
Others tempting him, sought of him a sign. Luke 11.
3.Seek is followed sometimes by out or after. To seek out, properly implies to look for a specific thing among a number. But in general, the use of out and after with seek, is unnecessary and inelegant.
To seek God, his name, or his face, in Scripture, to ask for his favor, direction and assistance. Psa 83.
God seeks men, when he fixes his love on them, and by his word and Spirit, and the righteousness of Christ, reclaims and recovers them from their miserable condition as sinners.
Ezek 34. Psa 119. Luke 15.
To seek after the life, or soul, to attempt by arts or machinations; or to attempt to destroy or ruin. Psa 35.
To seek peace, or judgement, to endeavor to promote it; or to practice it.
Psa 34. Isa 1.
To seek an altar, temple, or habitation, to frequent it; to restore to it often.
2 Chr 1. Amos 5.
To seek out God's works, to endeavor to understand them. Psa 111.
|Here is a worksheet to help you get started|
LESSON 10.0 Worksheet
What translation of the Bible do you need to use with the Strong’s Concordance?
Are there other reliable concordances available?
Why should we use the 1828 Webster’s Dictionary when studying with the Strong’s Concordance and King James Version of the Bible?
If you have e-sword or a Strong’s Concordance and King James Version Bible, look up one of your favorite verses and see if your understanding of that verse changes or stays the same after searching the words in it.
Look up the word “loved” from John 3:16. What is the Greek word used?
Is that your understanding of how God loved the world?