Parsing Daniel 8:12

This is one of the oddest verses in the entire Bible, and as such is one of the hardest passages to translate from the Hebrew. It breaks all the rules of Hebrew grammar.

In Hebrew grammar all words have gender. The masculine nouns go with the masculine verbs and the feminine nouns go with the feminine verbs. However in verse 12, there are no masculine verbs to go with the masculine nouns.

This is odd to the English reader as few word have gender, e.g. king-queen, goose-gander. We have almost always have the subject first followed by the predicate with verbs with verb phrases, etc.. This is how English grammar works.

This ungrammatical phrasing cannot be an accident. This is the kind of mistake a four year old makes with language, e.g. “I runned all the way here.”  It is like this verse has a giant red flag that says, “look at me”. But the question is WHY?

And the host was given over to it together with the continual burnt offering through transgression; and truth was cast down to the ground, and the horn acted and prospered. Dan 8:12

Dan 8-12

 Parsing Chart

And host (army/war/service) common noun masculine singular

give (/given/put /set) niphel imperfect third person feminine 

upon (to) preposition particle

the continually adjective

(in/at/with) (transgression/rebellion) noun masculine singular

and cast (throw/fling) hiphel imperfect third person feminine singular 

truth common noun feminine singular

the land (earth/ground) common noun feminine singular 

and to (do make) qal perfect third person singular feminine 

and prosper (succeed/rush) hiphel third person feminine singular 

If this is the first time you have seen a parsing chart on a Hebrew passage, you likely recognize nouns masculine singular, prepositions, and adjectives. The Hebrew grammar of niphel, hiphel, and qal perfect, will throw you for a loop. These are verb tenses.

English tenses are restricted to past, present, and future. This makes us determined to use words in chronological or sequential order. Hebrew doesn’t work anything like that. This can make translating really difficult sometimes. Niphel and hiphel are causative tenses, something or someone is behind the action or forcing the action. Qal perfect is completed action, similar to past tense in English. There are other Hebrew tenses, but this is not a Hebrew grammar lesson.

Our Translation

And the host (the chosen people} was given (to the little horn]) together with the continual because of the transgression (of God’s people—their abounding irreverence, ungodliness, and lack of piety) and righteousness and truth were cast down to the ground, and the rebellious (little horn) accomplished this (by divine permission) very successfully.

4 thoughts on “Parsing Daniel 8:12

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