4

UPDATE: Adding the word I forgot to mention - it doesn't change the context of the passage and who is being accounted just (or righteous)

I had this thought looking at the context and looking at the four words usually doubled in length - what if our entire interpretation of this passage is wrong?

English:

[Gen 15:6 KJV] 6 And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.

Masoretic:

15:6 וְהֶאֱמִן בַּֽיהוָה וַיַּחְשְׁבֶהָ לּוֹ צְדָקָֽה׃

If we were to simply look at these four words in their most fundamental meaning:

emunah (trust / fidelity / believe / steadfast) YHVH (Lord / Yehovah) hasab (counted / accounted) לּוֹ (Him) tsedeqa (just / righteous)

In the greater context back to Malkiy-Tsedeq in the prior chapter, Abram broke bread and drank wine with the King of Righteousness - High Priest to YHVH. Then YHVH makes a promise to Abram, and why did Abram trust YHVH? Because Abram knew that YHVH is not a man that he would lie, that he would follow through on his promise.

Abram trusted YHVH to be counted just.

Now my questions:

Is there any translation that prefers this interpretation?

Is there any reason my logic in this for the context and the five words used could be flawed?

What if the "accounting" is Abram telling us he trusts YHVH because he knows YHVH is just?

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  • 1
    For the sake of clarity, could you please state exactly what your own translation would be, as a sample sentence, that I could understand precisely the implications of what you are trying to convey. My own understanding of the words (used five times in both LXX and the Greek scripture) is : Abraham believed God and there was evaluated to him unto righteousness. This is further expanded by both Paul and Peter in regard to what that 'righteousness' actually is : namely the righteousness of God himself.
    – Nigel J
    Apr 29, 2021 at 18:53
  • 3
    Both Paul and Peter (and James) may be recording their own translation of the original Hebrew. It cannot be proved that they are quoting the Septuagint. Also, they are apostles and they would know if the Septuagint (in that place) was faulty and they would not quote from it. We either accept and believe the recorded word of God (by those authorised to record it) or we do not. And some who do not, then go on to fabricate something of their own . . . . . . .
    – Nigel J
    Apr 29, 2021 at 20:01
  • 1
    Both Jesus and James claimed that faith without good works is dead, so faith is just one side of the coin. The verse in question is therefore just telling half of the story. Luke 3:8,9 explains about the other half. Apr 29, 2021 at 22:28
  • 1
    A salient question is...What if the translation is correct? Apr 30, 2021 at 0:42
  • 1
    The question mentions "th[es]e four words" three times, but never says which four words. Apr 30, 2021 at 0:57

5 Answers 5

4

There are not 4 but 5 words:

to him
לּ֖וֹ (lōw)
Preposition | third person masculine singular

At https://biblehub.com/genesis/15-6.htm, 22 out of 25 translated this as "to him", the rest still use the word "him" referring to Abraham.

Is there any translation that prefers this interpretation?

Not among the above 25 translations.

Is there any reason my logic in this for the context and the four words used could be flawed?

You miss the 5th word.

2
  • To him being YHVH not Abram. May 30, 2021 at 18:47
  • How will you translate וְהֶאֱמִן בַּֽיהוָה וַיַּחְשְׁבֶהָ צְדָקָֽה׃
    – Tony Chan
    May 30, 2021 at 20:42
3

Here's a major Jewish translation. The pronouns show the possibilities, but the capitalized "He" follows the traditional translations of YHWH doing the reckoning. They did not capitalize "his," taking it as Abram.

And because he put his trust in the LORD, He reckoned it to his merit. -- Jewish Publication Society. (1985). Tanakh: The Holy Scriptures (Gen. 15:6). Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society.

"it to his merit" smooths the translation of לֹּ֖ו צְדָקָֽה, lit. "to him righteousness"

Your translation of וַיַּחְשְׁבֶ֥הָ ignores the conjunction starting a new clause and translates the Qal (like indicative) as an infinitive.

Note the Septuagint has a very literal translation of the Hebrew, except וַיַּחְשְׁבֶ֥הָ is translated passive.

καὶ ἐπίστευσεν Αβραμ τῷ θεῷ, καὶ ἐλογίσθη αὐτῷ εἰς δικαιοσύνην. {Gen 15:6, LXX)

2
  • Jewish translations are also based on existing English translations. May 30, 2021 at 18:48
  • How is that a "literal" translation? καὶ ἐπίστευσεν Αβραμ τῷ θεῷ, καὶ ἐλογίσθη αὐτῷ εἰς δικαιοσύνην. {Gen 15:6, LXX) And trusted Abram the things of God, and accounted him unto righteousness Hebrew: וְהֶאֱמִן בַּֽיהוָה וַיַּחְשְׁבֶהָ לּוֹ צְדָקָֽה׃ Righteous him accounted YHVH trusted It's not very literal at all. May 30, 2021 at 19:12
2

I do believe the proposed solution is the translation is incorrect, and I found a paper on Academia that goes into greater detail on this.

Academia Interlinear

So who's righteousness is in view here?

It's not Abram's in the context. Let's look at that again, even in the English and use the interlinear for every word to really dig in.

[Gen 15:3-6 NASB20] Abram also said, "Since You have given me no son, one who has been born in my house is my heir." Then behold, the word of the LORD came to him, saying, "This man will not be your heir; but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir." And He took him outside and said, "Now look toward the heavens and count the stars, if you are able to count them." And He said to him, "So shall your descendants be." Then he believed in the LORD; and He credited it to him as righteousness.

YHVH was making a promise to Abram - Abram trusted in the promise because YHVH is just.

Let's look at the same context with the added words removed.

[Gen 15:3-6 NASB20] Abram also said, "Since You have given me no son, one who has been born in my house is my heir." Then behold, the word of the LORD came to him, saying, "This man will not be your heir; but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir." And He took him outside and said, "Now look toward the heavens and count the stars, if you are able to count them." And He said to him, "So shall your descendants be." trust YHVH; counted him righteous.

Why did Abram trust the promise of YHVH? because YAH COUNTED HIM RIGHTEOUS?

That imputed righteousness for trusting a promise is NOT what Moshe was recording.

Here's an example the paper uses:

Jim's father, Mr. Anderson, promised his son a new car upon Jim's graduation. Jim was very grateful and reckoned his dad to be generous.

The subject of the first clause is the subject of the second. YHVH made a promise, YHVH is trusted because he is just.

Now to answer my questions:

Is there any translation that prefers this interpretation? I've not found any translations that properly deal with this text. It's just like the traditions around "church" and "baptize" - only very recently have those words been broken down to their true understanding and not a terrible translation or a terrible transliteration.

Is there any reason my logic in this for the context and the five words used could be flawed? The only flaw is that it comes up against tradition. Tradition is a god in all religions.

What if the "accounting" is Abram telling us he trusts YHVH because he knows YHVH is just? This is the simple truth of the context. It's not that Abram was not a righteous man (Gen 26:5) - he was a righteous man, that's why he obeyed the Father so repeatedly. But it wasn't his trust alone that made him righteous (James point on this passage) it was his trust and OBEDIENCE.

Abram tells us he trusted Yah's promise (Genesis 15:5) and then tells us why. Because he accounts YHVH as being just.

2
  • 1
    I so wish I had the Hebrew skills to answer this question!
    – Ruminator
    May 30, 2021 at 19:06
  • 1
    Read the article I linked to... it's fantastic. May 30, 2021 at 19:21
1

The flaw in your argument is the fifth word you have not considered, which is the fourth word in the verse, לּ֖וֹ = to him = to Abraham.

Thus, the accounting just or righteous is intended to Abraham not God in this verse.

However, only a just God can do this.

1
  • The "him" is clearly YHVH in the context, not Abram. Who is being trusted with a promise? Abram or YHVH? May 30, 2021 at 19:13
1

I think the difficulty you may be encountering with this verse happens when we try to understand it standalone and parse it down into oblivion. We are informed in/by the Bible that no verse of prophecy (Scripture) is of any private interpretation, so we are to look to other applicable verses to gain an understanding, in addition to what immediately is in view.

Not sure if the following will help or confuse, but for what it's worth, my understanding of the verse is this:

Had Abram been given righteousness as a result of his trust (faith) in the LORD as the verse on the surface seems to imply (and also as many understand it to mean), however, for that to be correct logically, it would instead have been phrased "righteousness was counted for his faith", and not "faith was counted for righteousness", thereby making the immediately obvious verse interpretation an incorrect one.

It seems to me that as written, and to harmonize all of this verse's elements, faith would have had to been imputed to Abram, and–in addition to that faith and central and integral to it–righteousness also imputed. Most importantly, the faith (and righteousness) imputed to Abram were Christ's and not Abram's. Galatians 2:16 substantiates this interpretation:

Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

In other words, by and because of Christ's faith (fullness), both belief and righteousness were imputed by God to Abram and also to all those whom God has chosen for such.

To substantiate this further, we read in Romans 4:13:

For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, [was] not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.

2Co 3:14 KJV

But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which [vail] is done away in Christ.

So then, in order for faith to truly be faith, it must also contain righteousness, neither of which can natural man supply for himself. Therefore, Christ's faith and His righteousness, being one and the same, were that which were given to Abram.

Hope this makes sense, and it helps. If you would like clarification, please let me know.

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  • Your answer could be improved with additional supporting information. Please edit to add further details, such as citations or documentation, so that others can confirm that your answer is correct. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center.
    – Community Bot
    Jan 1 at 1:26
  • So, do you think that the OP's translation, "Abram trusted YHVH to be counted just", is correct or not?
    – Rajesh
    Jan 1 at 1:34
  • God imputed both faith and righteousness to Abram, since, spiritually speaking, righteousness and faith are actually Christ's, not Abram's
    – RogerG
    Jan 1 at 2:49
  • @RogerG - Welcome to BH Community. A comment well-thought-out! I wish, though, you had made your thought explicit on the correctness of the transaction. (All the text citations in NT - Rom 4; Gal. 3:6; Heb. 11:8; James 2:23 and all available translations support its correctness.) The original text and intention thereof are essential for biblical exegesis and interpretation.
    – Sam
    Jan 3 at 16:55
  • Thank you very much for the welcome. I'm a little confused regarding your suggestion with what you would like added, but until you inform me otherwise, I'll assume you want me to tie into Romans 4:3. In that regard, I would site, Romans 4:14 where we are informed by God that everything pertaining to salvation -- with faith and righteousness included-- are from a promise made by God. As I'm sure you know, if from/by a promise, then the promise alone, especially one that is from God, must be that which brings to fruition what is promised. Max length - will continue reply later.
    – RogerG
    Jan 3 at 20:11

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