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Jeremiah 23:6b is translated in the KJV as :

'And this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.

In the margin of the KJV is the following :

'Heb. Jehovah-Tsidkenu'.

Young's Literal is somewhat confusing :

And this his name that Jehovah proclaimeth him 'Our Righteousness'.

Green's Literal has :

And this is his name by which he will be called : Jehovah our Righteousness


Where does the 'our' come from ?

Is the name stated (as we would say in English) 'Lord Righteousness' ?

Is the name stated as an equivalence : The Lord - Righteousness ?

Or is there a genuine, grammatical reason for inserting 'our' ?

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You bet there's a reason: omitting it would be ignoring the Hebrew.

-enu is the first-person plural possessive suffix for a noun in the singular. Sounds like a lot, but it boils down to adding "our" to a singular noun like "righteousness".

וְזֶה־שְּׁמ֥וֹ אֲ‍ֽשֶׁר־יִקְרְא֖וֹ יְהוָ֥ה צִדְקֵֽנוּ׃
And this is his name that (one) will call him: YHWH Our Righteousness.*

It's the usual way to add "our" in Biblical Hebrew. (In Modern Hebrew possession can often be marked differently -- it could also be two words, hatzedek shelanu.)


Grammatically there are more syntactic possibilities for this sentence, explaining the different translations you quoted: the name YHWH will call someone is "Our Righteousness" (seems unlikely — n.b. that someone could not refer to Israel or Judah since they're feminine); or the name that someone will call YHWH is "Our Righteousness".

  • So the possessive is part of the inflection of an Hebrew noun ? Is that what I am to understand ? – Nigel J Nov 28 '18 at 13:40
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    Yup, exactly. El-i, El-i cries David in Psalm 22, later quoted by Jesus: "God-my, God-my"! A lot of information is captured in suffixes in Biblical Hebrew. For example, when Elijah finds Ahab, the latter's response "Have you found me, my enemy?" is two Hebrew words (guess where the break is). In Modern Hebrew this is toned down -- it's more analytical, i.e. more independent little particles -- but it's still there. – Luke Sawczak Nov 28 '18 at 13:44
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    It is not part of the inflection (which distinguishes state, gender and number in BH), but a pronominal suffix. – user2672 Nov 28 '18 at 14:00
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    @Keelan I'd think it would depend on how you use that term (could be inflected for genitive case), but agreed, "pronominal suffix" is more theory-neutral. – Luke Sawczak Nov 28 '18 at 14:05
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The נו suffix means "our." (See this Hebrew grammar tutorial)

צֶדֶק (tzedeq) means "righteousness"

צִדְקֵֽנוּ (tzidqenu) means "our righteousness"

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