Strong numbers. Or Strong’s numbers. Whichever.
Don’t know biblical languages but wanna look up an original-language word? Strong has you covered.
From time to time I refer to Strong numbers or Strong’s numbers. I suppose I need to explain ’em before people get the idea I’m introducing them to numerology.
|the man Moses was very m., above all the men||H 6035|
|The m. shall eat and be satisfied||H 6035|
|The m. shall he guide in judgment||H 6035|
|and the m. shall he teach his way.||H 6035|
|But the m. shall inherit the earth||H 6035|
|to save all the m. of the earth.||H 6035|
|he will beautify the m. with salvation||H 6035|
|reprove with equity for the m. of the earth||H 6035|
|The m. also shall increase their joy||H 6035|
|to preach good tidings unto the m.||H 6035|
|and turn aside the way of the m.||H 6035|
|Seek ye the L
|Blessed are the m.: for they shall inherit||G 4239|
|for I am m. and lowly in heart||G 4235|
|Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, m.||G 4239|
|even the ornament of a m. and quiet spirit||G 4239|
So check it out: The meek inheriting the earth comes up twice, actually. In
Some bibles have a mini-concordance in the back, to be used as just this sort of index. They don’t include every word. Really, not even an exhaustive concordance does: There are 64,040 instances of “the” in the
Anyway. Dr. James Strong wasn’t the first guy to produce an exhaustive concordance of the
Wanna know the original word for “ass” in
ὑποζύγιονhupozugion, hoop-od-zoog'-ee-on; neuter of a compound of 5259 and 2218; an animal under the yoke (draught-beast), i.e. (specially), a donkey: ass.
Nice, huh? Wanna know the original word for “buttocks” in
Yes, I’m twelve.
Juvenile words aside, the number idea was just plain brilliant. Yeah, Strong could’ve only given people the original-language word, then turned ’em loose to fumble around for it. But I know way too many people who are totally wierded out by foreign languages. Even Spanish scares ’em. Throw a foreign alphabet in there, and they’re lost. But anybody can look up a number. So instead of trying to figure out how on earth you’re gonna find
Nope, Strong’s system isn’t perfect. Some of the numbers are redundant: Different forms of the same word sometimes got different numbers. Aramaic words (which he called “Chaldee”) got mixed up with the Hebrew words, and people can mix up the Hebrew meaning with the Aramaic and get the wrong interpretation.) Pronunciation is a little off, ’cause it’s not taken from native speakers, who’d pronounce those two words I listed as ypodzýghion and šetá. And if you wanna use Strong’s Greek dictionary to look up words from the Septuagint, he didn’t write it for the Septuagint, so good luck. (For that you’ll need a Liddell and Scott’s Greek-English Lexicon… and maybe a semester of ancient Greek.
But the popularity and utility of Strong’s concordance means you’ll find Strong numbers in a whole lot of reference materials.
The G-K numbers.
If you’ve read my article on the King James Version, you might know this translation has its drawbacks. Namely that the Greek and Hebrew texts used to translate it, and the bibles the
So when new bible translations wanted to create Strong-style exhaustive concordances, but they based their translations on updated Hebrew and Greek texts, they hit this problem: Sometimes the words they translated didn’t have Strong numbers. Now what?
They took two different routes. Take the New American Standard Bible: When they cranked out their first concordance in 1997, they put those additional words into their Hebrew and Greek dictionaries—in alphabetical order, as they’d usually go—then added b, c, d, and so forth. There; nearly all the Strong numbers match. (They still do this in their current edition of the concordance, which reflects the
The other route was that of the New International Version: For their first concordance in 1984, the editors, Edward W. Goodrick and John R. Kohlenberger
Me, I use computer bibles. So I can’t tell you how long ago I’ve used a concordance to look up a word by its Strong number. (Or
Every once in a while you’ll come across bible nerds who actually care which number system you use—Strong versus
But you’re gonna find Strong numbers in most resources: Like the