[b-hebrew] one-to-one rendering of olam

fred burlingame tensorpath at gmail.com
Thu Dec 9 20:44:24 EST 2010

Hello Gary:

Thanks for your comments. Please allow me to respond.

1. I have not reviewed the archive you referenced.

2. I do have an agenda by coming here: to learn more of biblical hebrew
language. That's the limit of it, for however long I might be here.

3. I appreciate your comments concerning olam. My experience with all uses
of the word in the masoretic text leads me to a somewhat different
understanding of the word. I see the word as meaning "a concealed (or
hidden) period of time." Other parts of the text sometimes reveal the length
of that particular time, such as jonah in the whale for 3 days. And other
instances of the word sometimes contain no such revelation of the length of
time intended.

4. Hence, for the verse in question I see the term of the priesthood duties
and functions as simply an unknown period of time. The later disclosure (in
jeremiah) of the subsequent destruction of the first temple, including the
loss of the aaronic line of priests, confirms to me that the period of time
intended in this verse consumed approximately 1400-587 b.c.


fred burlingame

On Thu, Dec 9, 2010 at 6:53 PM, Hedrick Gary <GaryH at cjfm.org> wrote:

> Fred, did you go to the archives? It's been discussed here before. 1 Chron.
> 23:13 is like Deut. 15:17 in the sense that it refers to something that is
> unending for a particular person (in this instance, an Aaronic priest)
> because that priestly position extends throughout his lifetime. But in other
> contexts, the referent is God's lifetime, which is surely eternal and
> unending. And it's the same word.
> One problem we have here in B-Hebrew is that people come and go—and some of
> them have an underlying agenda or something they are trying to "prove" from
> the Hebrew Bible while they're here. For instance, ad olam might come up in
> a discussion about the New World Translation. There are numerous issues with
> the NWT, and one of them is whether or not hell is unending. It's a longtime
> bone of contention between the Watchtower Society and traditional
> Christendom.
> But here's the deal. If you're looking for an iron-clad, one-size-fits-all
> translation of ad olam that fits every biblical occurrence, it's just not
> going to work because in each occurrence, the translation has to be
> contextualized.
> Just because ad-olam means a relatively short period of time (a man's
> lifetime) in 1 Chron. 23:13 doesn't mean it has that same import in Ex.
> 3:15, where God's Name is said to be "forever," or even in Psalm 9:8 (9:7 in
> the English Bible), where Yahweh reigns "to forever" (l'olam, which is
> similar in force to ad olam).
> We have the same thing in English. If I say something is "cool," it might
> mean (1) it's at a lower temperature or (2) it's something undeniably
> fantastic. The only way to determine which meaning applies in any given
> instance is to consult usage and context.
> Gary Hedrick
> San Antonio, Texas USA

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