The Fringe on the Borders of a Garment
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When translators create a new version, they use various types of documents to bring the message from one language to another whose readers they are targeting. In the process, they must make decisions as to the best wording that their potential readers will be able to comprehend. This can cause a shade of difference in meaning from version to version. Errors are inevitable, despite the sincerity of the translators. Denominational bias may occur, either intentionally or unintentionally. The following analysis of a portion of Numbers 15: 38 is an example of what can occur. In some cases, the variation of words and their meanings may appear to be minimal.

The King James Version is used here as the basic version. Four words from this version (underlined in the rendering below) head each list. Following them are the words used by forty-one other versions. A summary of the number of times each word is used is given. Following this is a conclusion.


Versions Compared

 

AAT An American Translation (Beck)
AB Amplified Bible
DHB Darby Holy Bible
EBR The Emphasized Bible
EVD English Version for the Deaf
GW God's Word
HBME The Holy Bible in Modern English
HBRV Holy Bible, Revised Version
HSH Holy Scriptures (Harkavy)
IB Interlinear Bible
IV Inspired Version
JBK Jerusalem Bible (Koren)
KJV King James Version
KTC Knox Translation
LB Living Bible
LBP Lamsa Bible
LXX The Septuagint
MNT Moffatt New Translation
NAB New American Bible
NAS New American Standard Version
NBV New Berkeley Version
NCV New Century Version
NEB New English Bible
NIV New International Version
NJB New Jerusalem Bible
NJPS New JPS Version
NKJ New King James Version
NLT New Living Translation
NLV New Life Version
NRS New Revised Standard Version
NTJ A New Translation (Jewish)
NWT New World Translation
REB Revised English Bible
RSV Revised Standard Version
SARV Standard American Edition, Revised Version
SGAT An American Translation (Smith-Goodspeed)
SISR The Scriptures (ISR)
SNB Restoration of Original Sacred Name Bible
SSBE The Sacred Scriptures, Bethel Edition
TEV Today's English Version
TJB The Jerusalem Bible (Catholic)
YLR Young's Literal Translation, Revised Edition


Numbers 15: 38

Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the FRINGE of the BORDERS a RIBBAND of BLUE: ... .

  FRINGE BORDER RIBBAND BLUE
AAT tasselcornerstringviolet
AB tasselcornercordblue
DHB tasselcornerslaceblue
EBR fringecornercordblue
EVD tasselscornersthreadblue
GW tasselcornersthreadsviolet
HBME fringesborderscordspurple
HBRV fringebordercordblue
HSH fringeborderthreadblue
IB fringecornerthreadblue
IV fringebordersribbandblue
JBK fringecornerthreadblue
KJV fringeborderribbandblue
KTC tasselscornerscordsblue
LB tasselshemscordblue
LBP fringesbordersribbonblue
LXX fringesborderslaceblue
MNT tasselscornersthreadviolet
NAB tasselcornercordviolet
NAS tasselscornerscordblue
NBV tasselshemsthreadblue
  FRINGE BORDER RIBBAND BLUE
NCV tasselscornersthreadblue
NEB tasselcornersthreadviolet
NIV tasselscornerscordblue
NJB tasselhemthreadviolet
NJPS fringecornercordblue
NKJ tasselscornersthreadblue
NLT tasselscornercordblue
NLV tasselcornerropeblue
NRS fringecornercordblue
NTJ fringecornerthreadblue
NWT fringedskirtstringblue
REB tasselcornersthreadviolet
RSV tasselcornercordblue
SARV fringebordercordblue
SGAT tasselcornerstringviolet
SISR tzitzitcornerscordblue
SNB fringecornercordblue
SSBE fringecornercordblue
TEV tasselscornerscordblue
TJB tasselhemcordviolet
YLR fringeskirtribbonblue


Summary

 

Following is a list of the translations of the four words in the King James Version. The number of versions using the various words is stated. There is no distinction given between singular and plural words.

# FRINGE # BORDER # RIBBAND # BLUE
23
18
1
tassel
fringe
tzitzit
28
8
3
3
corner
border
hem
skirt
19
13
3
2
2
2
1
cord
thread
string
lace
ribband
ribbon
rope
32
9
1
blue
violet
purple


Commentary

 

It is noted that all the Jewish versions use the color blue. Most of the ecumenical, Catholic, and Lutheran versions use violet. Most of the others use blue. Is this coincidence, or is there a definite pattern and reason? In Esther 8: 15, it is stated that the royal colors are blue and white. The ones which referred to violet above have also used violet here, as well. There is a relationship between blue, purple, and violet. Does it matter which color, or any other color, should be used? When one considers that the verse being discussed above is part of a commandment given by Yahweh, it is evident that there can be only one, not a choice of three, that should be stated. Thus, there has to be a change made by ancient translators or copyists. The changes are so subtle that they can be missed by the average Christian. This probably was not done by a Jewish rabbi or scribe because the Jewish versions use blue.

There are also variations with the other three categories of words used. The only true Jewish word is tzitzit. The other words are interpretive translations. One interesting word used is ribband (with two b's). This is a nautical term meaning "a lengthwise strip following a vessel's curves and bolted to its ribs, to hold them in place until they receive the planking or plating." There is an archaic word, riband (with one b), which means "a decorative ribbon". This word is an earlier form of ribbon. There is obviously a spelling error. It is strange that two versions of the Scriptures have not had this error corrected. All the other words can be checked in a dictionary to see the different shades of meaning. Which one is right?

What was the purpose of this thread or string and tassel or fringe? The answer is found is Numbers 15: 39. "... and you shall see it, and shall remember all the commands of Yahweh, and shall do them, ... ." There is no reference as to the shape and form of these, as some Jewish or Messianic groups avow.

The woman with a blood issue (Matthew 9: 20, 21) and other sick people (Matthew 14: 35, 36) recognized the healing powers that were represented in this part of Yahshua's garments. These two instances of the fulfillment of Malachi 4: 2 in reference to "with healing in His wings." These people remembered the meaning of the tassels and tzitzit.

There appears to have been changes in this passage over the centuries. Translators seem to have had problems with it and made interpretations, some of which may not give the true meaning. When one recognizes the true meaning of this passage, along with those above which refer to the healing of the sick, one should examine the importance of keeping the commandments. How can they all have been eliminated by the death of Yahshua? Have the changes caused Christians to forget the commandments of Yahuweh? Are Christians and Jews missing something in their interpretations of the Scriptures? This may be another example of replacement theology.