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Author Topic: Exodus 32:14 - God repents - of course not  (Read 2019 times)

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Exodus 32:14 - God repents - of course not
« on: August 25, 2014, 11:53:21 PM »

I have some comments on the proper translation of the Hebrew word nacham (H5162) found in the OT.  This involves some information given by both Ray and Kat and perhaps others.

Each translation I examined has a meaning of this word that is very inconsistent.  Does it mean mercy, regret, repent, pity, comfort, sigh,  etc?  Is the true meaning to be found from the from the context?  It looks like the translators chose words that fit their ideas, biases, opinions and concepts.  So is there a suitable English equivalent word for nacham?

Definitions from bible scholars into English of Strong's- H5162:

A primitive root; properly to sigh, that is, breathe strongly; by implication to be sorry, that is, (in a favorable sense) to pity, console or (reflexively) rue; or (unfavorably) to avenge (oneself)

KJV Usage: comfort (self), ease [one’s self], repent (-er, -ing, self).
Brown-Driver-Briggs' Hebrew Definitions
1. to be sorry, console oneself, repent, regret, comfort, be comforted
a. (Niphal)
1. to be sorry, be moved to pity, have compassion
2. to be sorry, rue, suffer grief, repent
3. to comfort oneself, be comforted
4. to comfort oneself, ease oneself
b. (Piel) to comfort, console
c. (Pual) to be comforted, be consoled
d. (Hithpael)
1. to be sorry, have compassion
2. to rue, repent of
3. to comfort oneself, be comforted
4. to ease oneself

Note the many and varied meanings ascribed to this Hebrew word.  The translated versions of the bible in English are inconsistent, not only from one version to another but within a version itself. The Hebrew word nacham (H5162) appears over a 100 times in the OT.  The KJV translates Strongs H5162 in the following manner: comfort  57 times, repent  41 times, comforter 9 times and, ease once.

Also the "literal" translations such as the CLV, Rotherhams and Young's are inconsistent in translating the word.  The only version that is consistent is the exeGeses Companion Bible which translates the word into the English word "sighs". IMO this is the closest rendering, but perhaps others could shed more light on the meaning.

To examine this topic more thoroughly, look at the account concerning Moses convincing God to repent and change His mind about the fate of the nation of Israel, as some translations state (Exodus 32: 9-14).

Yes, we know this is not so. God did not repent nor can He.  And concerning this both Ray and Kat have made the following comments on this in this web site and forum. I agree with Ray and Kat.

As Ray has written (excerpt in green) and I agree:

So God made a mistake?  He thought that He would destroy Israel, but He was wrong?  He determined the very best course of action to take with Israel, but it was ill-conceived?  He had to relent?  He had to back down?    He had to be shown true love and righteousness by a carnal minded sinner named Moses?  It took His Own creature to show Him the way?  Moses had more wisdom than God Almighty?  God got frustrated?  Moses kept his cool?  God lost it?  Moses was more mature about the situation and was successful in showing God the error of His way? Do we think that God continues to make such rash and quick-tempered judgments to wipe out whole nations before He thinks things through thoroughly?

"For who has known the mind of the Lord? or who has been His counsellor?" (Rom. 11:34).  Answer?  Why MOSES, of course.  Moses became God's counsellor and set Him back on the straight and narrow and salvaged a whole nation from the indiscriminate wrath of an uncontrolled God. Not?  NOT!!!

How foolish.   "God is not a man that He should lie, neither the son of man that He should REPENT"  (Number 23:19).  God wanted Moses to come to the rescue of Israel. God SET HIM UP for this very thing. God KNEW that Moses would come to the defense of his people, and this is precisely what God predetermined that Moses would do. God had no intention of destroying Israel at this time.

"So Yahwah showed MERCY [Heb:  'nacham']  concerning the evil which He spoke of doing to His people"  (Ex. 32:14, Concordant Literal Old Testament).

Also Kat has made this post with which I also agree:

In Exodus 32 God decided not to wipe out the nation of Israel. What I can see may be going on is that God needed to make Moses understand how he (Moses) truly felt about the Israelites. In order to make Moses realize how deeply he cared about them, God purposed that He take them away by wiping them out. Was this something God was debating on doing or just helping Moses see how much he (Moses) loved them, so he would be willing to do all he had to go through to help them. God may have been just using a little reverse phycology there it seems to help Moses understand.

So God does not repent.  And yet we find in Ex 32:14 the following according to various translations of the word nacham :

Rotherham(i) 14 So then Yahweh was grieved (H5162),—over the calamity—which he had spoken of inflicting on his people.
YLT(i) 14 and Jehovah repenteth (H5162) of the evil which He hath spoken of doing to His people.
CLV(i) 14 So Yahweh showed mercy (H5162) concerning the evil which He spoke of doing to His people.
ECB(i) 14 - and Yah Veh sighs (H5162) of the evil he worded to work to his people.
KJV  Exo 32:14  And the LORD repented (H5162) of the evil which he thought to do unto his peopl

The CLV uses the word "mercy": for nacham (H5162) in Ex. 32:14.
 This is inconsistent and is never thus translated anywhere else in the OT CLV version.  As you can see Ray used it in the excerpt given above.  And then Ray uses the KJV for his quote of Num 23:19 to state that God never repents.  This connection is not correct.

Note these verses from some translations of Num 23:19:

CLV(i) 19 El is not a man that He should lie. Nor a son of humanity that He should feel regret (H5162). Does He say it and then not do it? Or speak and then not carry it out?
Rotherham(i) 19 GOD is, not a man, that he should lie, Nor a son of Adam, that he should repent (H5162),—Hath, he, said, and will not perform? Yea spoken, and will not make it stand fast?
YLT(i) 19 God is not a man—and lieth, And a son of man—and repenteth (H5162)! Hath He said—and doth He not do it ? And spoken—and doth He not confirm it?
ECB(i) 19 El is neither a man, that he lies; nor the son of humanity, that he sighs (H5162): Says he ever, and not work? Or words he ever, and it not rise?
KJV(i) 19 God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent (H5162): has he said, and shall he not do it? or has he spoken, and shall he not make it good?

So what can we deduce from this?

My suggestion is that the pure (root) meaning of nacham is "sigh".  If this is reasonable then we can gain further insight by looking at the context of the particular verse in which nacham (sigh) is used.

So, based on the context and content of a verse, could not nacham (sigh) signify an expression of:

sighing to indicate comfort or consoling
sighing to indicate pity or compassion
sighing to indicate wrath or disdain
sighing to indicate power/perfection (as in Num 23:19)

Sighing is a expression of a thought and may not result in an action. Also the sigh of comfort is most often used in verses talking about humans, whereas the sigh of other attributes is used in verses referring to God.

These two scriptures (Ex. 32:14 and Num 23:19) and others too may have deeper meaning based on the real meaning of nacham IMO.
3 John 4 - I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.


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Re: Exodus 32:14 - God repents - of course not
« Reply #1 on: August 26, 2014, 12:51:59 AM »

Hi microlink,

That translation I use most on my E-Sword is the New King James Version, and here is the word it uses.

Exo 32:14  So the LORD relented from the harm which He said He would do to His people.

I like the way this word describes God's action to Moses...
He did what He knew He would do, He relented -
1- a:  to become less severe, harsh, or strict usually from reasons of humanity 
   b:  to cease resistance :  give in
2- let up, slacken

mercy, peace and love


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Re: Exodus 32:14 - God repents - of course not
« Reply #2 on: August 28, 2014, 01:07:05 PM »

I have heard Ray say that to repent is to do an about face.
That is the most simple definition to understand in my mind.
All the instances where it says that God repented, that I am aware of, God had already told the people beforehand about blessing, and curses like in Deuteronomy 11:26-28, and various other places.
So when the people sinned they got the curses, instead of the blessings, and vice versa, based on good, and evil actions.


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