Jeremiah 10:10 New World Translation: "But Jehovah is in truth God..."

One web page gives a "list" of where they believe the New World Translation errs in its translation. It begins by stating:

"The following is a list of problems that we have found with the New world Translation. We do not claim this list to be complete, nor do we claim that all of the problems are doctrinally critical, but some are. In many instances the meaning of the Bible has been changed by apparently deliberate mistranslations, additions, or omissions. If anyone knows of any errors, mistranslations, loose paraphases, etc. that we have missed here, please let us know."

One such example it gives is Jeremiah 10:10 and states:

"Jeremiah 10:10 - Hebrew phrase "Jehovah is the true God" paraphrased as "Jehovah is in truth God". - See Hebrew text and lexicons."

Firstly, and unfortunately, this page(critic) does not cite any lexicon! Nor does it by asking its reader to "see Hebrew text" give that "Hebrew text"! And what does it mean by the "Hebrew phrase"? We ask because it only cites an English translation of the Hebrew!! One can safely conclude that the writer of this page can not read the "Hebrew text" if it was placed before him nor can he cite any authority, including a Hebrew "Lexicon," that denies the way the Hebrew of Jeremiah 10:10 has been translated by the New World Translation! or shows the New World Translation here to be a "loose paraphrase."!

The "Hebrew text" here is:

~yiY;x ~yih{l/a-a.Wh t,m/a{ ~yih{l/a h'why;w
.Wlik'y-a{l.w #,r'a'h v;[.riT w{P.ciQim ~'lw{[ .$,l,m.W
w{m.[;z ~Iyw

We have high-lighted the Hebrew word which means "truth."

However, can the Hebrew of Jeremiah 10:10 be translated the way the New World Translation does?

The Hebrew here is "elohim emeth." Literally, "god truth." The Hebrew definite article does not occur. When Hebrew nouns are without the definite article(the Hebrew does not have an indefinite article) it makes the noun refer to the class to which it belongs. With the article the noun would be stressing the identity of the particular member. Hence, to translate "elohim emeth" as "is in truth God" rather than "is the true God" is the preferrable choice in our opinion.

There are a few Bible translations that read very similiar here to the New World Translation:

"But Yahweh is God in truth." The Emphasised Bible by J.B.Rotherham.

"But the Lord is God in good earnest." The Holy Bible by Knox.

"Or, "God in truth." Revised Standard Version footnote.

"But the Lord is really God." The Holy Bible, An American Translation by W. F. Beck.

"But the Lord is God in truth." New English Bible(1960)

"But the Lord is God in truth." Revised English Bible(1989).

Of course, simply listing Bible translations that agree with the New World Translation does not prove that the New World Translation is correct. We simply give this list, which could very likely be expanded, to support the New World Translation at this place. Still, none of the above translations are offering "paraphrases" or "loose paraphrases" of the Hebrew!!

A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Jeremiah by William McKane states, in part, regarding Jeremiah 10:10:

"When Yahweh is characterized as Tma[emeth], an attribute which contrasts with the.... idols is brought to the fore: Yahweh has a massive substantiality: he is truth and effectiveness."- Vol. 1, page 224, 225. T & T Clark, Edinburgh, 1986.-italics ours.

The word translated as "truth" in the above translations quoted is Tma, transliterated, Emeth. The noun has a meaning of firmness, stability, faithfulness, sureness, truth. The "Index of Semantic fields" in Volume 5 of the New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology & Exegesis informs us about emet[h]: "Truth - emet(reliable, lasting, fidelity, truth, ..."(p.202. See also "Hebrew Lexicons", e.g., The New Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius Hebrew-English Lexicon, page 54a) At Jeremiah 10:10 most translate it as an adjective, "true"(the positive degree). In its "Old Testament Lexical Aids" the New International Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible informs us: "Emet:..Firmness, stability, security(Isa 39:8; Jer 33:6), continuance; faithfulness, integrity(of man [Ne 7:2]; of God [Ps 71:22]) : sure, reliable (Pr 11:18; Jer 2:21); truth (Dt 22:20; Pr 14:25, Jer 9:5). The term is used frequently of God in denoting his faithfulness, an attribute which is given a great deal of significance in the OT. It is the principal Hebrew word used to signify truth." So, the New World Translation can hardly be described as a "paraphrase"!!

We referred you to The New Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius Hebrew-English Lexicon page 54a. We read there under its entry for Tma: "Firmness, faithfulness, truth....... 5. adv[erb]. in truth, truly [Ps]132:11.....Yahweh is God in truth, truly Je[remiah]10:10.....".

Note here that this lexicon translates the Hebrew of Jeremiah 10:10 as it appears in the New World Translation. The only difference being the position of the words.

Interestingly the Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible by Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown and published in 1871:

"[Jeremiah 10:10] true God--literally, "God Jehovah is truth"; not merely true," that is, veracious, but truth in the reality of His essence, as opposed to the "vanity" or emptiness which all idols are."

Hence, the New World Translation is above criticism at Jeremiah 10:10a. The critic, however, is not! We might add here that this critic ought to look at the "Hebrew text" and "lexicons" for if he did he would see that the tetragrammaton occurs in Jeremiah 10:10, h'why;w , which is a proper name and not a title such as "Lord." Undoubtedly the New World Translation is correct to employ a proper name, "Jehovah" in English, to translate the Divine Name here. Perhaps then this critic will have a "problem" with those myriad of English Bible translations that hide the greatest name in the Universe at this place(and the nearly 7000 other places h'why;w occur)? If so his "list" will certainly be a great one!

Use back button to return to 'minor criticisms' page.

main index