Clear and willful mistranslation of the text does not make Scripture ‘more readable’ nor does it bring clearer understanding. Rather, when found out, it undermines the reader’s faith in the text, and sometimes in the God of the Scriptures. It is a sad reality, however, truth must be pursued.
In defending one of the pagan holidays, someone once told me, “well, it must be okay, because ‘Easter’ appears in Scripture!”
Taken aback, I asked, “Where?”
“Acts 12:4,” was the quick response.
Hmmm… So, I had to go look.
After flipping through several translations I found the occurrence:
And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people. Acts 12:4 KJV
So, as I usually do, I went to the original language.
[Aside: If you are not familiar with the original languages, this is still an easy thing to learn to do. An interlinear translation will help you find the word and then you can look it up in Strong’s or a lexicon for deeper study. In fact, let’s do that now to show you how.]
E-sword has an interlinear option in Greek, though simply reading the English with Strong’s numbers and hovering the mouse gives the quickest answer. The interlinear, with each language in a different color:
(IGrNT+) ον G3739 WHOM και G2532 ALSO πιασας G4084 [G5660] HAVING SEIZED εθετο G5087 [G5639] HE PUT εις G1519 IN φυλακην G5438 PRISON, παραδους G3860 [G5631] HAVING DELIVERED τεσσαρσιν G5064 TO FOUR τετραδιοις G5069 SETS OF FOUR στρατιωτων G4757 SOLDIERS φυλασσειν G5442 [G5721] TO GUARD αυτον G846 HIM, βουλομενος G1014 [G5740] PURPOSING μετα G3326 AFTER το G3588 THE πασχα G3957 PASSOVER αναγαγειν G321 [G5629] TO BRING OUT αυτον G846 HIM τω G3588 TO THE λαω G2992 PEOPLE.
You see that each word in Greek has a corresponding reference number, so you can look up the more detailed meaning of the word, and each word is also translated into English. Context may determine which ‘shade’ of meaning the translator chooses, and this is where personal bias and presuppositions come in. The problem is when the translator ‘rewrites’ Scripture for some reason. This example is a clear one. You see the Greek word and if you looked it up in Strongs it would say:
G3957 : πάσχα
pascha : pas’-khah
Of Chaldee origin (compare [H6453]); the Passover (the meal, the day, the festival or the special sacrifices connected with it): – Easter, Passover.
And, ironically, we see Strong’s bias with attaching ‘Easter’ to ‘Passover.’ **Headsmack!**
So, knowing that Strong’s is a very basic understanding, let’s dig deeper with Thayer’s (also in the free e-sword software!!).
G3957 : πάσχα
1) the paschal sacrifice (which was accustomed to be offered for the people’s deliverance of old from Egypt)
2) the paschal lamb, i.e. the lamb the Israelites were accustomed to slay and eat on the fourteenth day of the month of Nisan (the first month of their year) in memory of the day on which their fathers, preparing to depart from Egypt, were bidden by God to slay and eat a lamb, and to sprinkle their door posts with its blood, that the destroying angel, seeing the blood, might pass over their dwellings; Christ crucified is likened to the slain paschal lamb
3) the paschal supper
4) the paschal feast, the feast of the Passover, extending from the 14th to the 20th day of the month Nisan
(Speaking to KJV AND Strong’s) “There! Now, was that so hard??”
Interestingly, of all the translations I consulted through e-sword, only the Bishops Bible and all of the KJV variants put ‘Easter’ in place of ‘Passover.’ All other translations simply translate instead of ‘doctoring’ this text.
But that may lead us to something still more fun… Speculating out loud here… I know the KJV likes to use ‘groves’ instead of ‘Asherim’ or ‘Asherah’ which is a derivative/related goddess of ‘Ishtar’… and you begin to hear the connection with ‘Easter’… Oooo. That is a bit awkward!
I guess they HAD to use ‘groves’ (like many of the preceding translations, probably from Catholic tradition, as the English language was developing) in order to mask any association between the fertility goddess known as The Queen of Heaven/Ishtar/Astarte/Asherah and the holiday ‘Easter.’ But, that should also explain where ‘Easter bunnies,’ eggs, and various other pagan practices crept in. (Here is a pastor that admits Easter is a pagan holiday, and embraces it….) (And, an interesting side note: Ishtar/Astarte/Asherah, in images predating Messiah Yeshua, is often pictured riding a lion or ‘beast.’… Hmmm. )
Well, we’ve gotten off the original trail dealing with the wrong translation of ‘pascha’ as ‘easter,’ but, in chasing that thought, we see it drags us right into another translational situation that involves similar bias masked from the opposite side hiding the relation between ‘ishtar’ and ‘easter.’
Jeremiah spoke rightly when he prophesied,
Yahweh is my strength and my fortress,
my refuge in times of trouble.
Nations come to you from the most distant parts of the world
and say, “Our ancestors have inherited lies,
worthless and unprofitable gods.”
“People can’t make gods for themselves.
They aren’t really gods.
That is what I will teach them.
This time I will make my power and my strength known to them.
Then they will know that my name is Yahweh.”
There are SO many trails we could chase right now, but I’ll resist the temptation and keep this short.
DO the research. Study the Scriptures! Question tradition!! Come back to the ancient paths, the good way and walk in it!!
This is what Yahweh says:
Stand at the crossroads and look.
Ask which paths are the old, reliable paths.
Ask which way leads to blessings.
Live that way, and find a resting place for yourselves.
But you said that you wouldn’t live that way.
17 I posted watchmen over you.
Pay attention to the sound of the ram’s horn.
But you said that you wouldn’t pay attention.
18 Listen, you nations,
and learn, you witnesses, what will happen to them.
19 Listen, earth!
I’m going to bring disaster on these people.
It is the result of their own plots,
because they won’t pay attention to my words.
They reject my teachings [torah]. Jeremiah 6:16-19
HEED what He says here, lest you find yourself in the situation he describes just 12 verses later… SCARY stuff! Judgment on those who claimed the name of Yahweh, but chose to do it their own way!! Nothing has changed in 2500 years!!
But go to my place that was at Shiloh, where I first made a dwelling place for my name. See what I did to Shiloh because of the evil done by my people Israel. 13 You have done the same things the people did at Shiloh,’” declares Yahweh. “‘Although I spoke to you again and again, you did not listen. When I called you, you did not answer. 14 So what I did to Shiloh I will now do to the house that is called by my name. This is the place I gave to you and to your ancestors, the place where you feel so safe. 15 I will force you out of my sight as I forced out all your relatives, all of Ephraim’s descendants.’
16 “Jeremiah, don’t pray for these people. Don’t cry or pray for them. Don’t plead with me, because I will not listen to you. 17 Don’t you see what they are doing in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? 18 Children gather wood, fathers light fires, and women knead dough to make cakes for the queen of heaven. They pour out wine offerings to other gods in order to make me furious. 19 They aren’t really provoking me,” declares Yahweh. “But they are harming themselves to their own shame.
20 “This is what Adonay Yahweh says: My anger and fury will be poured out on this place, on humans and animals, and on trees and crops. My anger and fury will burn and not be put out.