ARTB Bible Blog 1.12.11 NURTURING LOVE IS-WITH
Behold, a virgin will conceive and will beget a son and will call his name Immanuel, that is translated Our God is-with us. (Matthew 1:23, ARTB Draft)
A note from A. Frances Werner:
This passage from Matthew quotes the famous verse from Isaiah 7:14. Although there are several comments that could be made about differences between the NT and OT text, one huge difference so important to understanding Yahweh's nurturing love is the simple word IS-WITH. This seems so minor, but I'm betting with a bit more information, you'll agree that the Ancient Roots of Hebrew and Aramaic have something important to tell us.
Some boring background. In Hebrew, there are 3 major forms of the word WITH (AT, Strong's 854, B Strong's 871, and IM, Strong's 5973). Aramaic shares 2 of the forms (871 and 5974, which is identical to 5973) but simplifies, dropping the third form. Generally, throughout the New Testament, the Aramaic simplifies and systematizes the language, particularly on prepositions and pronouns. This is a huge blessing for the ARTB project, and to understand the text, because the simplification clears out the chaff to get down to the important words.
So why didn't Aramaic go "all the way" and simplify to ONE form of WITH? After significant study, I believe that one form (871) is the simple preposition, WITH, and the second (5973,74) truly is distinct: is has a VERB form, IS-WITH. It is a distinct word, the IM in IMMANUEL. Strong's 871 is just the letter B, used as a prefix before a word. It is rendered WITH, IN, ON or BY in ARTB and is the #1 word used in the bible, over 15,000 times in the OT, and 5,000 in the NT. 5973 and 5974 are used far less frequently, approximately 1,000 each in the OT and NT, respectively.
So who cares about this obscurity??? Let's put it into today's world. You can be in the same room containing your family members. You are WITH them. You are simply WITH them if you are all texting messages or looking at video games. You are simply a preposition--connected by space and time.
But you ARE-WITH each other if you are talking together, playing a game together, or laughing together over dinner. Then you are an active, living verb--connected to each other, hopefully in NURTURING LOVE. We use phrases in English like "in their own world" or "checked out" to help us distinguish the difference between the uses of WITH or BEING-WITH. Nurturing love cannot happen unless we ARE-WITH each other.
The name IMMANUEL now will be rendered IS-WITH, and will be corrected in the OT. Think about it: Our God did not just come to be a preposition, to simply be WITH us, joining us in a particular place and time, but rather to BE-WITH us, present to us, nurturing us with His love. Selah.