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Does Esther 1:6 refer to cotton?

Discussion in 'Bible Versions & Translations' started by Logos1560, May 7, 2011.

  1. Logos1560

    Logos1560 Active Member
    Site Supporter

    Oct 22, 2004
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    Were the early English translators influenced by the Latin Vulgate at Esther 1:6? Moldenke asserted: "The Hebrew word for 'cotton' is karpas. This word appears in the original of the passage cited above [Esther 1:5-6], but was mistranslated as 'green' in the King James, Leeser, and Douay versions" (Plants of the Bible, p. 109). Moldenke added: "The Vulgate rendered the 'carpas' of the Esther reference as 'carbasini coloris,' implying that a color, not a material was intended. This is doubtless the basis of the Authorized and Douay versions' translation of 'green'" (p. 110). Likely influenced by the same source, the 1540 Great, 1560 Geneva and 1568 Bishops’ Bibles also have "green" while the 1535 Coverdale's and 1537 Matthew’s Bibles have "red." On the other hand, Lamsa’s English translation of the Peshitta Syriac, which is on the KJV-only view’s good line, has “cotton.”

    The Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible noted that "the 'green' of the KJV in Esther 1:6 is undoubtedly a reference to the Levant cotton, Gossypium herbaceum" (IV, p. 1709). H. B. Tristram maintained that “carpas should be rendered, not ’green,’ but ’cotton’” (Natural History, p. 440).John Smith wrote that “the word ‘green,’ according to Celsius, properly translated, should read ‘cotton‘” (Bible Plants, p. 246). Robert Tyas claimed that “there is no doubt” that the word translated “green” in the KJV at this verse “should have been ‘cotton’” (Flowers, p. 36). In his book also entitled Plants of the Bible, Michael Zohary maintained that "cotton, the Hebrew karpas, is mentioned" at Esther 1:6 (p. 79). Young's Analytical Concordance rendered karpas as "cotton" (p. 437). Green's Concise Lexicon defined it as "fine linen, cotton cloth" (p. 116). Wilson's O. T. Word Studies gave the following definition: "fine white linen or cotton cloth" (p. 201), which is also the definition in Gesenius‘ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon (p. 416). The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia maintained that “the Hebrew karpas is from the Persian kirpas and the Sanskrit karpasa, ‘the cotton plant’” (p. 723). At its entry for cotton, Unger’s Bible Dictionary noted that Hebrew karpas comes from Sanskrit karpasa (cotton), and that “the fine cotton draperies in the royal palace at Shushan (Esth. 1:6), correctly are rendered by this term” (p. 1136). John Balfour observed that “the Hebrew word karpas is very like the Sanskrit karamus and karpasa, signifying the cotton plant” (Plants, p. 171). The Encyclopaedia Judaica noted that cotton is "mentioned under the name karpas (derived from the Sanskrit karpasa) in the book of Esther" (Vol. 5, p. 992). The 1917 English translation of the Masoretic text by Jews translated the beginning of verse 6 of Esther chapter one as follows: "there were hangings of white, fine cotton, and blue." The 1842 revision of the KJV has "white cotton" at Esther 1:6. The 1808 translation by Charles Thomson has “cotton” at this verse.
  2. Dr. Bob

    Dr. Bob Administrator

    Jun 30, 2000
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    Cotton would be correct and translations often "borrowed" and "influenced" each other (often to detriment, sadly).

    Is someone claiming it ISN'T cotton? Maybe the PO bunch? (Polyester Only)


    Don't think anyone would believe every word of a man-made translation is going to be 'correct' or even the 'best' word in every place. Anything made by man is imperfect. Men make mistakes.