"...but try the spirits whether they are of God..." (1 Jno. 4:1)

Volume One, Number One Winter 1991

Khoog Schmoog It Does Not Matter

Farrell Till

The editor claims that the Hebrew word khoog translated circle in Isaiah 40:22 meant sphere as well as circle. Strong defined it as circle, circuit, or compass, and Young defined it as circle, arch, vault, or compass) Both are widely recognized authorities, but neither listed sphere as a definition of khoog. In practically any disagreement involving biblical interpretation, both sides can cite authorities to support their positions, so rather than quoting Hebrew lexicons Mr. McDonald could more effectively prove his point by citing just one instance where the word was translated sphere. If he is right in saying that khoog could mean sphere let him cite the book, chapter, and verse where translation committees used the word sphere to convey what they believed the original word meant. The word saw limited use in the Old Testament. According to Scriber's Dictionary of the Bible (Vol. 1, p.442), the word appeared three times in the Hebrew scriptures: Isaiah 40:22, Job 22:14, and Proverbs 8:27. As a verb, it was also used in Job 26:10. In none of these places, however, do the fourteen translations in my personal library use sphere in translating the word. They render it circle, circuit, compass, vault, dome, arch, boundary, horizon, ring, and rim, but NEVER sphere.

For the sake of argument, however let us assume that the word khoog could indeed mean sphere as well as circle. A circle is not necessarily a sphere, so even with this concession, to have a valid scientific foreknowledge argument McDonald would have to prove that sphere was the intended meaning in Isaiah 40:22. How exactly is he going to do that? None of the major translation committees thought that sphere was what Isaiah meant in this passage. Of the 14 translations previously mentioned, ten of them render the word circle and four of them vault, the latter translation strengthening the very position that McDonald is disputing. Does he expect us to consider him a better authority than the scholars who translated these major versions of the Bible?

A greater problem than that for Mr. McDonald is his need to prove that the shape of the earth was not generally known in Isaiah's day. Facts that can be verified by most general encyclopedias indicate that the Greeks, Egyptians, and astronomically curious societies of Isaiah's day knew that the earth was a sphere, so if they knew this, how does Mr. McDonald know that the Hebrews did not? Until he can prove positively that they did not know, he does not have a scientific foreknowledge argument. So the issue ultimately boils down to this rather than the meaning of the word translated circle in Isaiah 40:22. Khoog, schmoog the word itself just does not matter. If Isaiah by chance did mean sphere rather than circle, could he have known this scientific fact without the aid of inspiration? That is all that matters. (Mr. Till's address is P.O. Box 617; Canton, IL 61520)

Editor's Rebuttal

Mr. Till's argumentation was exactly as we expected it to be. Whenever he is presented with an argument which puts him in a bind, he will argue around the argument. This is exactly what he did in answering my argument on the word khoog. Let us note what he says. He said that Young and Strong defined the word khoog and neither of them used the word sphere as one of the meanings. If Mr. Till would just stop and think about it, he could see that Young and Strong did not give every meaning of the word. Nor did they give the forms of the word. Davidson in The Analytical Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon also used the words compass and compasses, but only when the word is used in its feminine form. Strong simply threw out several definitions and did not distinguish between genders as Davidson did. If one wants a quick meaning, he might go to Strong or Young. However, if one wants to see how a word is used, he is going to have to go to a lexicon. However, I am glad that Mr. Till says that Strong is a widely recognized authority. I think that I will quote him when I send my response to Adrian Swindler on the flat earth article. Swindler said that Strong simply lied.

Mr. Till did not begin to deal with the masculine gender of the word khoog. Whenever, this word is in its masculine form. it means a circle, a sphere. In Isaiah 40:22 the word is used in its masculine form, therefore, it means a circle, a sphere. Mr. Tilt suggested that a circle and a sphere are two different things. True, they are sometimes different, but Webster says that a circle is, "...formed on the surface of a sphere by the intersection of a plane that passes through it." (Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, p.200) A circle is formed on the surface of the spherical earth. Is it not reasonable that Isaiah refers to this spherical circle of the earth? Could God not sit above this circle on the spherical earth? Now, let him deal with the word in its masculine form, it means a circle, a sphere. When it is in the feminine form, it is not translated circle, but something like compass, circuit or something like that. Such is its usage in Isaiah 44:13, there it reads "compass."

As far as his argument is concerned about this not being an argument for scientific foreknowledge is concerned I do not recall making such an REBUTTAL from argument. I do believe, however, that it is an argument for such and I do not believe that Mr. Till nor anyone else can show that it is not. Mr. Till says that most, "...general encyclopedias indicate that the Greeks Egyptians, and astronomically curious societies of Isaiah's day knew that the earth was a sphere." This is only true, if one puts Isaiah about 250 B.C. However, if one puts Isaiah about 750 B.C. (where he belongs) then one is going to have a hard time proving that. The Book of Knowledge says, "Greek astronomers before the time of Christ observed that during a lunar eclipse, when the earth is between the sun and the moon, the earth always casts a curved shadow on the moon. On the basis of these and many other facts they decided that the earth is shaped like a ball... One scholar, Erathosthenes (about 250 B.C.) came very close to figuring the actual distance around the earth." (Vol. l, p.39) The World Book says that, "The sciences based upon research and experiment did not develop in Greece until the late 300's B.C." (Vol. 7:p.364) Pythagoras, the Greek philosopher, "...believed that the earth was spherical..." (The World Book, Vol. 14, p.8 13), but this was around 200 years after Isaiah. Lars Thunberg said that Babylonians thought the earth was a great mountain, then said: "The Egyptians held similar ideas." (MATC) pp. 26 27) If he wants to debate, let him debate his own paper. (TSR Vol. l, No.3 pp.5,6) jdm

CHALLENGE is published quarterly by Challenge Publications.
Jerry D. McDonald, Editor; Michael P. Hughes, Associate Editor.

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