Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Hang earrings on dogs?


‘Give not that which is holy’ or ‘Hang earrings’?

  
Give not that which is holy unto dogs, neither cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet and turn again to rend you.   Matthew 7:6
  
This verse is instructive because it contains two pairs of Aramaic words that have been mistranslated:

tithlon, ‘hang’, was mistranslated as talon, ‘to lead or give’, and it was translated into Greek with the word ‘give’.

qudeshah, ‘earrings’, was mistranslated as qudsha, ‘holy’, with both words spelled the same, and it was translated into Greek with the word ‘holy’.

The correct translation is:
Hang not earrings on dogs, neither cast your pearls before swine,

The other key aspect to this verse is that is a beautiful piece of Semitic poetry. The image of ‘hanging earrings on dogs’ dovetails perfectly with the other half of the line of ‘casting pearls before swine’. This type of poetry is called a Parallelism where two or more agreeing images are joined together.

In the Parallelism of Matthew 7.6 both images show that animals, dogs and swine, used metaphorically as representing ignorant people, should not be given precious things that they will not appreciate or understand:

Hang not earrings on dogs,
neither cast your pearls before swine,

lest they trample them under their feet
and turn again to rend you.    

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