Have you ever cut off your children?
1. To separate from others; isolate. 2. To stop suddenly; discontinue. 3. To shut off; bar. 4. To interrupt the course or passage of: The infielder cut off the throw to the plate. 5. To interrupt or break the line of communication of: The telephone operator cut us off. 6. To disinherit: cut their heirs off without a cent.Which of these meaning senses would seem reasonable in my question:
Have you ever cut off your children?I have sometimes cut off my children by interrupting them or stopping them from saying something I felt they shouldn't say.
Let's try a variation on the verb. What do you think this question might mean?
How would you feel if your children were cut off?I'm still having difficulty figuring out what either of my sample questions most likely means. Let's see if yet another sentence with "cut off" might clarify what that phrasal verb means:
The LORD loves justice, and he will not abandon his godly ones. They will be kept safe forever, but the descendants of wicked people will be cut off.Does that help us understand what "cut off" refers to? It might, for those of us who have been taught what "cut off" means in Bible English. Oh, for those who wonder, the last quote was a translation of Psalm 37:28, and--don't be too shocked--the wording is not from either a literal or essentially literal translation. (We really do want to be equal opportunity employers on this blog!) Surprisingly, that translation wording is from the God's Word translation, which usually translates with fairly clear, understandable English. I consider that GW is a good translation with above average quality English for Bible versions. Perhaps "cut off" just slipped through the cracks on this one in GW. The translators of Ps. 37:28 likely deliberately included the words "cut off" in more literal English versions, including: KJV, RSV, ESV, NRSV, and NASB. The REB also uses the words "cut off."
So what is "cut off" supposed to mean in Psalm 37:28? There is some exegetical debate about its figurative meaning. TWOT gives the following glosses for karat, the underlying Hebrew word in question in this verse:
1048 cut off a part of the body, e.g. head, hand, foreskin; cut down trees, idols; cut out, eliminate, kill; cut (make) a covenant.Some take karat to be a Hebrew metaphor for being done away with, destroyed, killed. The biblical contrast is that godly people will be safe forever, but descendants of wicked people will die, a punishment for them from God himself.
Versions which translate with that meaning of karat:
the children of the wicked will be destroyed (HCSB)Did you already understand that meaning of "cut off"? If so, are you surprised that the meaning intended in Ps. 37:28 is not found in a good dictionary such as the American Heritage dictionary? (I would hope that the meaning of the biblical metaphor would be found in more exhaustive dictionaries, perhaps the OED, which I am not able to check, but maybe one of you will and can include it in a comment.) If a meaning sense intended in a Bible version is not found in a dictionary, which is supposed to represent the collective understandings of different meanings of words, what might we conclude? Do we assume that the dictionary is simply not thorough enough? Or do we question whether the literal translation of the Hebrew metaphor may not be the most accurate and clearest way to express the figurative meaning of that metaphor for most English speakers?
the children of evil men are wiped out (NET)
the children of the wicked will perish (NLT)
the children of the wicked will die (NCV)
He ... destroys the children of the wicked (CEV)
So many questions, but I'd better cut off my post before it gets any longer!