The Translation Of The Hebrew Term NīR: ‘David’s Yoke’? -- By: Deuk-il Shin

Journal: Tyndale Bulletin
Volume: TYNBUL 67:1 (NA 2016)
Article: The Translation Of The Hebrew Term NīR: ‘David’s Yoke’?
Author: Deuk-il Shin

The Translation Of The Hebrew Term NīR: ‘David’s Yoke’?1

Deuk-il Shin



The purpose of this article is to query the viability of Douglas K. Stuart’s recent suggestion that the Hebrew form nīr ‘lamp’ should be translated as etymologically related to the Akkadian nīru ‘yoke, domination’ on the basis of Paul D. Hanson’s statement. The study is particularly interested in the phrase ‘lamp of David’. The author insists that the traditional interpretation of the Hebrew nīr as ‘lamp’ be maintained, thus rejecting the relevance of the Akkadian niru ‘yoke’.

1. Introduction

Douglas Stuart contributed an article recently in which he argued that the phrase ‘David’s lamp’ should be translated as ‘David’s yoke’ (dominion) in the English Bible (1 Kgs 11:36; 2 Kgs 8:19; 2 Chr. 21:7). His statement is simply to support Paul Hanson’s assertion that the Hebrew term nīr means ‘yoke’ on the basis of an Akkadian cognate nīru.2 Stuart regards ‘David’s lamp’ as one of the mistranslations ‘that point a reader in a wrong direction, and that can throw off a preacher or teacher and his or her audience’.3 Indicating that the wrong translation ‘lamp’ has not been corrected to ‘yoke’ in dozens of later versions, commentaries, and lexicons, Stuart appears to

attribute the neglect of Hanson’s contribution to translators’ preference for comfort and for the convenience of tradition.4

Hanson’s opinion has been accepted by several scholars. Buis translated the Hebrew term נִיר (nīr) as ‘power’ (un pouvoir) by understanding it as ‘yoke’ in his French commentary.5 McKenzie rendered it as ‘domain’ with the footnote, ‘The usual translation of this word as “lamp” (NRSV) does not make much sense. The translation here reflects the alternative meaning “fiefdom” suggested by Paul D. Hanson.’6 Recently, Klein translated...

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