Word Study: The Bullies בנד

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WORD STUDY – THE BULLIES – בנד

Psalms 25:3b: “Yea, let none that wait on thee be ashamed: let them be ashamed which transgress without cause.”

In the second part of Psalms 25:3 we find the Psalms is telling God to let those who transgress without a cause be ashamed. Should not be that those who just transgress be ashamed why only those who transgress without a cause?

First we really need to look at this word transgress. Most translations use the word transgress , some will say to deal treacherously and a couple say to offend for no reason or rebel without a cause. Just in my own reaction when I hear the English word treachery I am thinking of something much more serious than transgress. When I hear rebel I have a little trouble relating that to transgression. To me the English word transgression simply means to cross a line between something good to something bad. The rendering of offend for no reason seems to be much less serious than treachery.

Some time ago when the President of United States ordered a drone attack and the media called it a treacherous act and some called it an offensive act. It may mean pretty much the same but the emotional impact of the words are quite different.

Someone recently asked me what a certain word meant in Hebrew. After thinking for a few moments I came up with nothing, because the word, like most words in Hebrew, has many possible nuances and it is difficult or impossible to say what a word means until you ask that all important question, “Where in Scripture do you find this word?” Once I knew the Scripture reference and put it into a context, I instantly knew the answer. Like in all languages and especially in Semitic languages you need to know the context in which a word is used to determine the right English word. But even knowing the context, which we have in Psalms 25:3 we still find a difference in the English word that is applied. That is because of a another important factor that is often overlooked in our Western world and that is the emotional context.

I recently heard Norah Jones, a famous pop artist, sing a love song where she says: “My heart is drenched in wine.” Now if she sang that in a foreign language and someone translated it into English, they could have been very accurate in rendering it as: “My heart is drenched in fermented grape juice.” It would fit the context but not the emotional context. All the different words English translators use for transgress is correct, but they all reflect a different emotional context.

Let’s take a look at this word in the original Hebrew. It is the word habogedim from the root word bagad. It is a word used when someone is unfaithful and deceitful in a marriage. It is interesting that the form bagad used in this verse has a definite article and is in a plural form. It should be rendered as the transgressors.

To me someone who is unfaithful and deceitful is worse than just offending someone or even just transgressing a law of marriage. I would put it on the level of treachery. Some people, however, would say unfaithfulness or deceit in marriage is just an offense but not the level of treachery. However, I would say if you talk to most women who discover that their husbands were having an affair, they would label that as a treacherous act if not worse. The emotional context becomes a matter for the individual to decide or better yet for the Holy Spirit to reveal it to them.

Now remember the word ashamed is bosh which means to be perplexed, confused or discouraged. The context of bagad here, however, is not to an unfaithful spouse but to people in general who are unfaithful and deceitful. It is really up to you to decide what English word to give to bagad as people react differently to unfaithfulness and deceit. No matter what English word you apply, universally, people just don’t like it when someone has been unfaithful and deceitful to them.

Maybe someone is deceitful to you because you lack understanding of a situation and they have to resort to some deceit to keep that situation from blowing up. They may even be unfaithful to you for your own good. Should the penalty be the same for such deceit as that committed for selfish reasons? I believe that is why David applies the last words: without a cause.

The Hebrew for without a cause is reqam from the root word reyq. Reyq is a word used when you spend hours or days working at a project and you accomplish nothing. You say your efforts were in vain, they served no worthwhile purpose. Thus, those who act deceitful and are unfaithful to you for no worthwhile purpose are the ones who will be ashamed, bosh, confused, perplexed and discouraged. In English we have a word for these people, these bagad reyq, transgressors without a cause, we call them bullies. As this word habogedim has a definite article and is in a plural form I would render this as the bullies. “Let them be ashamed the bullies who bully you without cause.”

Did you even have anyone try to bully you, treat you treacherously for no purpose other than just to be mean and put you down? The Bible says they will be ashamed. I will bet you want them to be more than ashamed. Well, they deserve more than that. Perhaps the Hebrew word is more clear, bosh, they will be discouraged. They will discover after sometime that they have just wasted their efforts because nobody likes a bully and all the time they spent trying to put you down will be wasted because what have they really accomplished?

I had a woman on my disability bus recently who told how she lived in an apartment across from her younger sister. Her younger sister was not as aggressive as she was as the older sister. Anyways one day the older sister heard her younger sister and her boy friend fighting. She heard a scream and then her younger sister started pounding on her door pleading for help. The older sister opened the door and saw her baby sister bloodied with her face smashed in. The older sister immediately picked up a baseball bat she kept for just such an occasion and march up to the boy friend standing in the hall threating to kill. She warned the boy friend to leave. The boy friend laughed and pushed the older sister to the floor saying; “What are you going to do about it?” With bat in hand she showed him what she would and did do. She hit the bully in the head so hard that he fell down seven flights of stairs. He jumped up and said: “Now you did it, I am calling the police.” The police came and took one look at the little sister and arrested the boyfriend or the begad reyg (bully) who had this bosh (confused, perplexed) look on his face. The police asked the older sister if she was ok and sort of smiled at her. They even shook her hand and invited her to join their baseball team. I would say that is a good picture of Psalms 25:3b.