My Question about The Hebrew word "Arum"

Hi everyone, first of all, let me begin by saying I have absolutely no knowledge of Hebrew language at all, let alone Biblical Hebrew. And as I was doing my daily Bible Study today, I came to learn that the Hebrew word “Arum” can either be translated to ‘naked’ or ‘crafty meaning: clever at achieving one’s aims by indirect or deceitful methods’.
Well, I may be wrong. Please correct me if I am.

I believe that the Scriptures (the original in Hebrew) is the Word of God and I believe it with absolute faith. But, as we can all agree, the translations sometimes can be tricky and vast numbers of translations can sometimes take us away from the actual meaning instead of towards the truth.

So, here is my dilemma and I hope someone can clarify this. What if I am right? If “Arum” can mean be translated to ‘naked’ or ‘crafty’, and if these words have been cross-translated in below two verses (I took ESV for this one) from Hebrew to English, doesn’t everything we believe just crumble to the ground? Doesn’t this shake the very foundation of the Christian faith? The Creation? The Fall? And everything that follows all the way to Jesus and the Revelations? Us? Our Belief?

Genesis 2:25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.
What if the word ‘naked’ here is supposed to be translated to ‘crafty’? Well, this makes sense since Man was created in God’s image and its obvious for Adam & Eve to be crafty and not be ashamed of being crafty.

Genesis 3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.
What if the word ‘crafty’ here is supposed to be translated to ‘naked’? And, to some extent, this too makes sense to me due to the snake’s ability to shed its skin (hairless/furless unlike most other animals) and thus narrated in this verse as being the nudest of any other beast of the field.

God bless.

In Him
Utsab

Hello Utsab,

When you look at the actual Hebrew text, the word used in Genesis 2:25 is Arummim. Then in chapter 3 the word used to describe the serpent is Arum. They are very similar and this is not an uncommon issue in languages to have similarities in the sounds and uses of a particular word. We can see this issue in English all the time with many words that are similar, or even the same, yet they have different meanings. Take for example the word Matter. Now Matter can describe substance, such as what makes up a particular object. It can also be used in different form to describe something that is important/unimportant(that doesn’t matter), and it can also refer to a situation(they got involved in this matter). This is a homonym, two or more words which are spelled the same, yet have different definitions. How do we tell the difference in their definitions? We tell that by examining context. Depending on the context of the words use, we can figure out the meaning(That doesn’t matter vs. He examined the object to find out what kind of matter it was composed of).

This is an issue in Hebrew as well. The context is what helps us to understand what the author’s meaning is. Even though these two words are similar, there are differences due to the structure of the Hebrew language. The singular form of the word Arummim is Arom. The word Arom is a derivative of the Hebrew word Ur which is defined as “to be exposed or bare.” In this usage, the word Arom means “naked.” However, the word Arummim literally means lack of clothes, yet it can be used to also express a lack of guile, or innocence. This is before Adam and Eve had eaten of the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, so they were still innocent, as they had not sinned. This is the general definition of the word in this particular usage. However, we do know also that Adam and Eve were naked, because of what we see after they eat of the tree. They realize that they are naked, and try to cover themselves with leaves. We also see that later God kills an animal and clothes them with the skin. So, we can look at the actual usage of the word Arummim in this context in 2:25 as being primarily innocent, but also it’s translation can be naked, and Adam and Eve were both at this point.

Then when we look at the word Arum in Genesis 3, the word itself is actually derived from Arom. However, it’s meaning is “crafty, shrewd, or sensible.” We can see from the context in Genesis 3 that the word Arum is being used to describe the serpent as crafty, because he is deceiving Eve by asking her questions that are meant to make her question God’s commands. He is literally being crafty in this this situation as he deceives her.

The Hebrew language is a great language to learn and understand, but it can be difficult at times because it has many of the same complications as any other language. Once we start to look at it in the proper context though, we have a much easier time finding the true definitions of the words. I would recommend using Strong’s concordance or something similar if you are looking to learn more about the language.

I hope that helps a bit Utsab. If you have any other questions please ask them. May God grant you wisdom and understanding as you continue to study His word. God bless you and thank you.

Matthew

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Hello Utsab,

Greeting from Canada. It is such a blessing to see how Connect joins believers from all over the world into one body! :smile:

I think you are correct that if the question that you have raised were true it would have serious implications for the coherence of the Christian message. As you have asked your question, it would seem that many of the doubts that are raised about the trustworthiness of the scriptures that are being raised in Canada, are also being raised around the world. I think the reason for this is because that many people around the globe have bought into the concept of Postmodernism. The idea that anybody can put forth their ideas and that they are equally true as anybody else’s. The conclusion being that we can create our own reality and that all truth is subjective, therefore no truth is really true for all people….thus again the Christian message losses it authority. :neutral_face:

Reflecting back to Genesis 3:1, I think this mirrors that same question that was put to Eve; Did God really say…….? It is a common approach that Satan has taken to diminish man’s trust in the Word of God. The question that you have raised is not unique and I am sure that you will come across many other examples as you journey through your days following Christ. :thinking:

Matthew @mmingus36 … has given a good explanation that comes at the question from a scholarly perspective, which is a good approach if you have the resources and the training to do the research. I usually approach these types of dilemmas from a perspective of a layman (someone without specific training in Greek or Hebrew). And in a sense no different than I approach other areas of life that require practical application of ideas that I am not an expert in and where I am going to be directly impacted by the outcome in a meaningful way. These areas could include; physical repair of things, integrity actions, safety performing actions.

As an physical example; 9 tire experts tell me that my car wheel toque pressure should be 100ft. lbs., and 1 person may say that it should be 50. I am very comfortable getting in my car and driving it with a tire torque of 100. We all make and are comfortable with these kind of decisions every day.

Our Bibles that we trust, have all been translated from the original language (Greek and Hebrew) to our language today. Each different authoritative translation has been put together by many people who have given their lives in the search for a correct translation of God’s word. We also have many different versions that we can use as a reference against other versions to reveal biases that any group of translators may have had. Therefore in the end if I can get 9 translations to agree on a particular wording I am comfortable with the plain reading of the text that is in front of me. In fact that is what you are going to do with Matthews’s advice, you will add it to the group of translations that agree and your confidence with be increased. If I write a test or an exam on any particular subject and I get 9 out of 10, I am very confident that I know the material well enough to live by.

That being said when I look at the texts that you have raised I checked 10 different translations (it’s easy to do these days when we have access electronically to info) of scripture, all 10 of them recorded naked as the word in Genesis 2:25 and then in verse 3:1 all were not consistent in their use of the word crafty but some had substituted another word that had the same meaning as crafty (ex. cunning). That’s 10 out of 10 or 100% of trust-able Christian translators would agree on the same idea that is being communicated in these verses. I am therefore very confident to anchor my theology and my trust in the Lord securely to the plain reading of the text in this area. :smiley:

There will always be deniers to the authority of the Word of God, but we trust that God empowered Moses to write parts of the Bible to begin with and with the test that I have just given you I think we can trust that has preserved His word for those that are truly trying to know Him deeper through it.

I pray that you may continue to grow in the trust of the Lord, who has demonstrated by His resurrection that He has given you new life to live by the power of the Spirit.

Don

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@mmingus36 & @don58.baker,

Thank you both for the time you have taken to give two great answers; one from a scholarly viewpoint (clarifies textual & contextual dilemma) and other from layman perspective (provides a proper logical solution to the issue of translation). Both these answers combined together, it definitely helps me in constructing one proper response if this question is ever presented to me. It is highly unlikely but there is always one, just like me.

Thank you once again & God bless.

In Him
Utsab

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