Word Study: Put



Exodus 15:26: And he said: If thou wilt diligently harken unto the voice of God and will do that which is right in His sight, and will give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee.

Some time ago I started to hear a teaching that when God said that He would “put” none of these diseases upon us that the Hebrew really said: “I will not permit these diseases to come up you.” I remember going to my Hebrew Bible and finding the word for put was samti which simply meant to put or set. It had nothing to do with permit. Eventually these teachers started to refine their teaching and explained that this was really in a permissive tense. Say what? There is no permissive tense. What they are saying is that it is in a Jussive form which on rare occasions is used as permissive. There is no permissive tense but the Jussive can be used that way if the context calls for it.

Eventually, I started hearing other teachers explain that the verb put was in a permissive tense rather than a causative tense but since there was no way to express the permissive tense in English translators put it in the causative tense. Huh? I eventually began to hear things like translators lied, or translators were covering up the truth etc. Finally someone mentioned a work by a Hebrew scholar named Dr. Robert Young. That’s when things started to make sense.

Dr. Robert Young did a controversial work on the use of the Jussive (command, agreement with a request or in rare cases permissive) form in the Hebrew. Unfortunately, the application of his theory to Exodus 15:26 was a hit with teachers of faith healing and it got passed on from one faith healer to another who had no concept of what the word Jussive means, let along being able to identify it in the Hebrew text. It eventually evolved into a teaching of a permissive tense and took the form of some sort of conspiracy by Bible translators to cover up God’s true intentions with regard to healing.

I am not saying we cannot render the passage as permissive, that is up to you to decide if this is one of those rare occasions to call the Jussive persmissive, but let me at least give the problems faced in coming up with such a rendering.

In Hebrew there are three volitional forms or three expressions of will – Jussive (desire) first person, Imperative (Command) found in 2nd person and Cohortative (wish) found in third person. These volitional forms expresses a speakers desire, wish or command. The Jussive usually occurs in the third person verb which is in an imperfect state. Unfortunately there is nothing to distinguish a Jussive from an imperfect tense.

Dr. Robert Young, who is a noted Hebrew Scholar, presents the idea that the verb put in Exodus 15:16 is in a Jussive form. However, he made the mistake of calling it a permissive form, to the delight of faith healers and the dismay of Hebrew scholars. What he meant was that this particular Jussive would be rendered as permissive. Teachers not schooled in Hebrew picked up on this and just to prove their ignorance of the language called it a permissive tense. It is not a tense and a permissive form just does not exist in Hebrew, unless the context, as Dr. Young pointed out, demands it.

Simply put a Jussive form expresses the will of the speaker. The status, position and context of the speaker, will determine the nature of the expression of the speaker’s will. It may be a command, a request or a wish. Dr. Young for various reasons determined this verb put to be in a Jussive form expressing permission.

I tend to disagree with Dr. Young as he did not consider the use of the Jussive in other Semitic languages. For instance, the Canaanite dialect which preceded the Hebrew will often derive the Jussive from the short yaqtul form. The verb asim is found in the long form and not the short and would thus lay serious question that this is truly a Jussive form. Just because it is in a third person and imperfect tense does not automatically make it Jussive as Dr. Young seems to indicate. It is just not me, but most Hebrew scholars take serious issue with Dr. Young in his use of the Jussive.

Secondly, let’s just assume it is in a Jussive form, this would not mean it is permissive, it could simply be an expression of wish. You have a lot of hoops to jump though to get this to a permissive state. I think we are better off and more grammatically sound to just keep this as “He will put none of these diseases upon you.”

Ok, not much devotional or inspirational about this. My study today grew out of a question someone asked. However I wanted to share this as there appears to be a desperation among some teachers to come up with something new and exciting to keep the congregations and audiences attention. So desperate are they that they will not check out their sources when they hear something new.

We have entered the 21st Century saturated with a world view of Christianity through our mass media of Television, radio, print media, recorded media and, of course, the internet. Never in the history of Christianity has so much information be given to Christians. Teachers are running out of new material. There does not seem to be enough new revelations to wow the congregations anymore. Maybe this is why some teachers hearing something new will run with it without first checking out the source.

All I can say is that the Word of God is a well that will never run dry. Study it for yourself, you will find plenty of new revelation and do not be the third or fourth generation of new revelation based upon some misquotation.