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MT Hebrew from Blue Letter Bible:

וְרָאִיתִי וְהִנֵּֽה־עֲלֵיהֶם גִּדִים וּבָשָׂר עָלָה וַיִּקְרַם עֲלֵיהֶם עֹור מִלְמָעְלָה וְרוּחַ אֵין בָּהֶֽם׃

Most translations, such as NIV have tendons/sinews, but some, like NLT have muscles:

Then as I watched, muscles and flesh formed over the bones. Then skin formed to cover their bodies, but they still had no breath in them.

I also saw versions with 'nerves' and both 'muscles and sinews'.
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How to determine which meaning of this word should be used here? If it should be sinews indeed, then what word would mean 'muscles' in ancient hebrew?

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@Konrad....There is a critical commentary that translates it this way:

8 Before my very eyes sinews appeared on them, flesh formed and a top layer of skin covered them.

Leslie C. Allen, Ezekiel 20–48 (vol. 29; Word Biblical Commentary; Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1998), 181.

The Hebrew is as follows :

וראיתי והנה־עליהם גדים ובשר עלה ויקרם עליהם עור מלמעלה ורוח אין בהם׃

So, I have reviewed all English translations at biblegateway.com (you can do that by searching Ezekiel 37.8 using, let's say, ESV and then click on " Ezekiel 37:8 in all English translations ".

I also reviewed Biblical Lexicons and Dictionaries and I just reviewed Merriam-Webster for the English on sinew and tendons ( merriam-webster.com ).

  1. First Hebrew Word : גדים : It's clear now that sinews is old English for tendons. So, they mean the same.
  2. Second Hebrew word : בשר : This is what causes an issue. Basar in Hebrew is flesh. But, it cannot be the skin since it's the next Hebrew word in verse 8. So, it must be referring to the muscles under the skin and not the skin itself. So, Basar here is usually flesh, but here it apparently only refers to the flesh under the skin since it cannot be the skin itself.
  3. Third Hebrew word : עור : This one is the most obvious. It's the skin--the top layer.

The word in English "bones" is not in the Hebrew, but it's understandable that if there's sinews/tendons + flesh/muscles that grow, they must be covering the bones, and then the skin layer covers it all.

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