Lamentations 3.35a

by James Dowden

I recently ran into this slightly unusual rendering from

“a hawliau dynol yn cael eu diystyru”
(“and human rights being disregarded”)

My immediate thought was along the lines of, “This is political correctness gone mad! I shall write to the Daily Telegraph!” After all *the* Bible (meaning the ESV these days) says:

“to deny a man justice”

And being a typical Christian whose Greek is better than their Hebrew, I then looked at the LXX:

τοῦ ἐκκλῖναι κρίσιν ἀνδρὸς

So there we have it. It means “perverting justice from a man”. Ablatival genitive. Slam dunk. Silly PC

Not so quick… Let’s have a look at the Hebrew:

לְהַטּוֹת, מִשְׁפַּט-גָּבֶר

Yep, the “to turn aside” bit is there, but what have we next? מִשְׁפַּט is the construct state of מִשְׁפָּט (yes, those nearly invisibly-different a-vowels do matter), and there’s no מִן (or at least מִ־) before גָּבֶר. The meaning isn’t ablative at all: it hyperliteralistically says “the justice of a man”.

So do I agree with’s interpretation now? Not quite. גָּבֶר is a markedly masculine word: it is more “man-at-arms” than “human being”. Readers will no doubt be familiar with the ἄνθρωπος (man (as opposed to beast), human being) vs ἀνήρ (man (as opposed to woman), man-at-arms, husband) distinction in Greek, and there’s a similar distinction in Welsh too between “dyn” and “gwr”. Those terrible liberals have only gone and gender-neutralized a passage that was gender-marked in the original.

So is “the justice of a man-at-arms” the same as human rights? Does anyone want to tell me I suck at Hebrew, and that the construct state can somehow be ablatival?

In any event, I would like to thank the folks at for spurring me to blog again.