The Aramaic pronunciation
of shach-bay am dich-re is translated as [men] who
lie with males (Lamsa). Dr. Lamsa adds the word men
in our English translation. The Aramaic text as voweled (pointed) says: “those who commit rape with men,”
or simply “those who rape men.” The Aramaic language mostly contains the word “with”
(am) in most of the places that English speakers use the word; but there are a few places
where the Aramaic language uses the word “with” where English speakers would not use it in a phrase.
The last word may be singular though; since there isn’t any extra grammar indicating that
the word is plural. This interpretation will be discussed further down.
The key word to focus on is the Aramaic word shcaw
“to rape.” The only other place this word appears in the sexual usage in the Bible is at Genesis 35:22. The context
is referring to rape at that verse. Additionally, the authors of the Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon also define shcaw as meaning “ to rape” from non Biblical writings. It is men who rape men that won’t
inherit the kingdom of God (by
interpretting the last word as being plural).
The Hebrew word sha-cav was translated two
ways in the Aramaic Old Testament. Approximately ninety-nine percent of the time, sha-cav
was translated as dmik; which means “to lie down, sleep.” Dmik can also mean “to lie with” when the word “with” is added after it. When sha-cav was translated as schaw in the Aramaic for a sexual
act, the context is referring to rape (see Gen. 35:22). Even though the Aramaic word shcaw
is spelled the same as the Hebrew word sha-cav, it only means “to rape” in
the Aramaic Bible when describing a sexual act. Shcaw is used in the phrase: “And
one of them came seeking to rape the wife of that man” (A Dictionary of Jewish Palestinian Aramaic, first
edition by Michael Sokoloff).
This Aramaic phrase used here at 1 Corinthians 6:9 may
have the interpretation of: “those who commit rape with a man” or simply “those who rape a
man.” Generally, there needs to be a plural pronoun to let the reader know if the second noun is plural, though
not always. A plural pronoun isn’t needed if the second noun’s plural spelling is different than its singular
spelling. Or if the second noun is performing an action and the verb is written plural.
Most Aramaic nouns are spelled the same in their plural and singular form. Plural
or singular pronouns attached to the verb will let the reader know if the noun is plural or singular. When the word “of”
is used between a [verbal] noun and another noun, the absence of the pronoun them means the second noun is singular.
If the pronoun them (usually attached to the first noun) appears before the second noun, then that second noun is
In the above example, the Aramaic literally says:
“rapers of with a man (dich-ra).” The verbal noun (rapers) is
in the plural construct form, so it is clearly plural. Since there is no plural pronoun afterwards to indicate that the second
noun is plural, then it may not be.
The following are a few examples of the regular
or normal way to express a statement which has two plural nouns connected with the word “of.” “…the
souls of the disciples…” (Acts 14:22) is literally in the Aramaic: “the souls of them -
of the disciples…” “…the words of the prophets…” (Acts 15:15)
is literally in the Aramaic: “…the words of them – of the prophets…” A third
example is at Acts 15:10: “the necks of the disciples…” The Greek translator
translated the word “necks” in the singular though, as “neck.” The meaning of both the Aramaic and
Greek text here is the same. The Aramaic text isn’t saying that the disciples have more than one neck. Neck
is plural here because there is more than one person spoken of in the phrase.
Here are some examples of the same construction used in 1 Corinthians 6:9. In
some of the examples I left the word “of” out. Revelation 17:8 says: “inhabitants (pl.)
upon the earth (sing.).” Revelation 18:17 says: “all the passengers
(pl.) in the ship (sing.).” Revelation 19:5 says: “worshippers (pl.)
of His Name (sing.).” Additionally, there are some examples with this verbal noun form in which the
second noun sounds like it should be plural to an English speaker, but it is not. We know this because at Revelation 22:15,
the Greek text has the second noun in the singular form as in: “makers (pl.) of a lie (sing.).”
And at Job 13:4, the phrase says: “speakers (pl.) of a lie (sing.).” We know
that the word “lie” is singular because the original Hebrew text has the word “lie” in the singular
Additionally, there are some occurrences where nouns are pointed
plural in the Aramaic New Testament when they should be pointed singular. I know they are singular because there is nothing
in the text suggesting that the noun is plural. Additionally, the Greek New Testament translated those words singular. These
errors occur frequently in the Aramaic Old Testament Translation and in Dr. Lamsa’s Translation. The Aramaic Old Testament
is very often a literal translation of the Hebrew and doesn’t always have the additional grammar needed to let the reader
know if the noun is singular or plural. Dr. Lamsa many times translated a noun plural when the Hebrew noun is singular and
vice versa. Since the Aramaic Old Testament is a translation of the Hebrew, then the Aramaic noun is singular when the Hebrew
noun is singular and plural when the Hebrew noun is plural (in most cases). I haven’t come across this problem of not knowing if a noun is singular or
plural in the Aramaic New Testament; which was originally written in Aramaic and is very precise. Though I do have
to say that I may not agree with how a noun is pointed (voweled) and translated as in this example at First Corinthians 6:9.
know from the Bible that there is such a thing as gang rape where men attempted or succeeded in lying with another person.
The Bible gives examples of this in the story of Sodom and of the men of Gibeah.
This phrase was translated as Arsenokoitai (presumably “those who lie with men”) into Greek. Its singular spelling is arsenokoites “he who lies with a man.” The singular spelling is made up of two Greek
words: arsen (man, male) and koitos (lying with, sleeping).
Since the first noun arsen doesn’t end with os
or on, an additional o* is needed between arsen and koitos. The singular spelling literally means: “the lying
with a man;” but since the word is personified, it has the meaning as stated above.
Scholars have mistakenly thought the second word
is koite (bed). This mistake is understandable because of the similar spelling of koite and koitos. However, interpreting the second word
as “bed” would give arsenokoites the meaning of “male bed” or
bed of man;” which doesn’t make sense. Interpreting the second word as koitos
makes more sense and agrees more with the Aramaic which has a verbal noun and not a noun (i.e. bed).
The Greek translation doesn’t help us know
if the second Aramaic word is singular or plural. When two Greek words are combined to form a composite Greek noun, sometimes
the first noun in the word remains singular in the composite noun’s plural form. An example is the word: nomodidaskalos “teacher (didaskalos) of the law (nomos).” Its plural spelling means: “teachers of the law.” I know of one word
where the first noun may take the plural meaning in its plural spelling. Eidololatres
(sing.) means “one who serves (worships) an idol, idolater;” while eidololatrai
(plural) may mean “those who serve (worship) idols, idolaters”
* Cheirographon “handwriting” is another Greek word that
needs an additional o between the two words making up this composite Greek word. The first
word cheir “hand” doesn’t end in os, so an o was added between that word and the verb grapho “to write.”