Wednesday, April 26, 2017

What does Mamzer mean?

Let's take a look at Deuteronomy 23:2. What does the word Mamzer (ממזר) mean?
YLT Dt 23:2 a bastard doth not enter into the assembly of Jehovah; even a tenth generation of him doth not enter into the assembly of Jehovah.
Traditional translation of this word is obviously incorrect. Here is why:

Mamzer really means “a foreigner” or “an alien”. For example, see Deuteronomy 25:5 or Numbers 17:5(16:40). It has nothing to do with wedlock or incest like traditional translations suggest (although incestous people are mentioned in the following verses. See Deuteronomy 23:4 (3).

So basically, the word mamzer means the same thing as the word "nakar". I.e Exodus 12:43, Deut 14:21, Deut 23:20. Usually, this refers to a person who is not circumcised, who does not live according to the Written Torah and who is from another country.

Unfortunately, this word used in the Written Torah only once in Deut 23:2, so there is no other verses we can compare for definitive meaning. The only place where the word ממזר is used is Zechariah 9:6 in the Book of Prophets of the TaNaKh so we have to be careful. Let's take a look:
YLT Zch 9:6 And dwelt hath a foreigner in Ashdod, And I have cut off the excellency of the Philistines.
Young himself admits that the word Mamzer can't be translated as "bastard" in this verse and therefore he translates it correctly as "a foreigner".

Therefore, correct meaning of the word Mamzer in Hebrew would be "a foreigner".

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