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Monday, 18 July 2011

Slaves or souls: The NIV in Genesis 12:5

For an exhaustive verse-by-verse and book-by-book comparison between the ONIV, TNIV, and NNIV, see this website.

Genesis 12:5 KJV
And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother's son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came.

He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Harran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there.

Revelation 18:13 KJV
And cinnamon, and odours, and ointments, and frankincense, and wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat, and beasts, and sheep, and horses, and chariots, and slaves, and souls of men (καὶ σωμάτων καὶ ψυχὰς ἀνθρώπων).

cargoes of cinnamon and spice, of incense, myrrh and frankincense, of wine and olive oil, of fine flour and wheat; cattle and sheep; horses and carriages; and (ONIV) bodies and souls of men /(NNIV) human beings sold as slaves.

The latter verse is the only place where the KJV has any form of the word 'slave.' The question is, does the KJV refer to slaves in the previous verse?

Rabbinic tradition holds that the reference to “souls that they had made in Haran” means converts to Judaism from Haran. This is clearly anachronistic.

The word itself is הַנֶּפֶשׁha-nefesh, which is typically translated as 'the soul.' It's used quite a bit in Genesis to refer to any living, breathing creature.

See this site for extensive discussion of what it means in Genesis 12. It's basically "possessions" or "chattel."  The NIV update didn't change anything, other than to double the 'r' in "Harran."

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