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Thursday, March 30, 2006

2 Tim. 2:15: Orthotomeo VI

When the Old Testament writings talk about the 'way' being made straight, the usual consequence is that this will prevent you from stumbling. If God directs your path you will not fall down or stumble. However, the 'way of the Lord' is also made straight or level. Both of these phrases reappear in the New Testament.

Here are some of the relevant verses in Hebrew and Greek.

Proverbs 3:6

יְיַשֵּׁר אֹרְחֹתֶיךָ.
and He will direct thy paths. (make your path straight)
ἵνα ὀρθοτομῇ τὰς ὁδούς σου
ὁ δὲ πούς σου οὐ μὴ προσκόπτῃ

Proverbs 11:5

וּבְרִשְׁעָתוֹ, יִפֹּל רָשָׁע. צִדְקַת תָּמִים, תְּיַשֵּׁר דַּרְכּוֹ
The righteousness of the sincere shall make straight his way,
but the wicked shall fall by his own wickedness.
δικαιοσύνη ἀμώμους ὀρθοτομεῖ ὁδούς
ἀσέβεια δὲ περιπίπτει ἀδικίᾳ

Proverbs 3:23

אָז תֵּלֵךְ לָבֶטַח דַּרְכֶּךָ; וְרַגְלְךָ, לֹא תִגּוֹף.
Then shalt thou walk in thy way securely
and thou shalt not dash thy foot.
ἵνα πορεύῃ πεποιθὼς ἐν εἰρήνῃ πάσας τὰς ὁδούς σου
ὁ δὲ πούς σου οὐ μὴ προσκόψῃ

Isaiah 40:3

קוֹל קוֹרֵא--בַּמִּדְבָּר, פַּנּוּ דֶּרֶךְ יְהוָה; יַשְּׁרוּ, בָּעֲרָבָה, מְסִלָּה, לֵאלֹהֵינוּ
Hark! one calleth: 'Clear ye in the wilderness the way of the LORD,
make plain in the desert a highway for our God.
φωνὴ βοῶντος ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ ἑτοιμάσατε τὴν ὁδὸν κυρίου
εὐθείας ποιεῖτε τὰς τρίβους τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν

Psalm 91:12

עַל-כַּפַּיִם יִשָּׂאוּנְךָ: פֶּן-תִּגֹּף בָּאֶבֶן רַגְלֶךָ.
They shall bear thee upon their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone
ἐπὶ χειρῶν ἀροῦσίν σε μήποτε προσκόψῃς πρὸς λίθον τὸν πόδα σου

יַשֵּׁר is the underlying Hebrew word for ορθος, and ευθυς. So the path or road is to be made 'straight', 'direct', 'level' or 'smooth'. I don't actually see smooth in the lexicon, but while listening to Bruce Waltke's talk on Proverbs, I noticed that he uses the word 'smooth' for Proverbs 3:6. "He will make your paths smooth." It is a quality that will keep you from dashing your foot. The word also implies 'right', 'correct', 'sincere' and 'honest'.

Next time, I want look at how the New Testament quotes Isaiah and Psalms. And finally, it will be time to go back to 2 Timothy 2 and see which meaning/meanings for ορθοτομεω best fit into this chapter, looking at how Proverbs has made its influence felt in the way Paul uses vocabulary in this epistle.

When I was a child I had two small wooden texts, one was Proverbs 3:6 and the other was Isaiah 40:11. Somehow, I think of these two verses as tying God's people together across the millenia. The one in Paul's reference, for the most part obscured, and the other immortalized in early Christian art.


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