Builded or Built


Both builded and built are past participles of build. Dictionaries, even my beloved Oxford, dismiss the difference. They declare, Builded = Built; it’s simply a poetic, and now archaic, version of built. I have never believed this, but for years wondered without understanding why the Bible translators used both, sometimes within the same sentence:


“For every house is builded by some man; but he that built all things is God.”

- Hebrews 3:4


Surely they knew what they were doing, and didn’t just randomly throw in an archaic or poetic participle. Why would they use one, and then, in a seemingly identical case, use the other?

“…and there builded an altar unto the Lord….and there he builded an altar unto the LORD….” Genesis 12:7, 8


Poetic? Hmmmm, later, the same man, doing exactly the same activity:

“…and Abraham built an altar there….” - Genesis 22:9


We’ve looked into transitive / intransitive verbs, object and subject, and other such grammatical escape hatches – but nothing was conclusive. Until, in daily reading in Nehemiah, something caught my attention. This is early in the eureka!! reaction and so with both excitement and trepidation I present my findings to the blog readers and humbly ask you to judge the value of the nugget: is it real or fool’s gold?

Wall Building

In Nehemiah, chapter 3, the Jews were repairing the wall. In 3:1, they builded. In 3:2, next to him builded. Then, and not randomly, in 3:3, “But the fish gate did the sons of Hassenaah build…” Ah, with the helping verb did, the base verb is used. Why? Why not builded? Keep reading: “…who also laid the beams thereof, and set up the doors thereof, and locks thereof, and the bars thereof.” Something included here that the sentences of builded (3:1,2) did not have: Beams, doors, locks, and bars. Everything necessary to complete this section of wall.


Moving ahead to Nehemiah chapter 3:14,15.


“He built it, and set up the doors thereof, the locks thereof, and the bars thereof.”


He gathered together a complete set of materials and hardware: built is used. This pattern is repeated in 3:15.


Now, the opponents mocked the Jews as they began to repair the wall (4:1-3), word came to Sanballat that “we builded the wall.” (Far from complete or secure: even a fox, if he jumped on the wall, would knock it down!)

But, after the prayers and hard work of the Jews, this declaration,


“So built we the wall, and all the wall was joined together…” (4:6)


Notice the words used in context: all and together. Again, built, not builded, is used. Curious.


It’s my conclusion that Built is associated with the descriptors of the subject: all and together.

So, according to this thesis, in the opposite corner sits builded – and the descriptors associated with this supposed archaic participle are the opposites of all and together: incomplete and separated.


Let’s read on and see if this pans out. Being physically threatened, the Jews had to divide the repairmen into groups, one to affect repairs (while bearing arms) and the other stood guard. While they all were involved, not all were involved with the action of TO BUILD.


“They which builded on the wall….and so builded…” (Neh. 4:17,18)


Here, in describing the actual builders, the poetic past participle is used: builded.

To prove my case, that the KJV translators weren’t just randomly throwing in poetic words (such as builded), but were in fact revealing great details. So, we read on regarding the condition of these builded repairmen:


“The work is great and large, and we are separated upon the wall, one far from another.” - Nehemiah 4:19


Builded = separated (not together). Interesting


Is it tedious to continue with these proofs? I hope not! One more from Nehemiah: in chapter 6: 1, Nehemiah states that the enemies “…heard that I builded the wall…” Here builded is used; but, the wall had no breach left therein. It would seem the wall was completed, and therefore built, instead of builded, should be used. I wonder if the translators, led by the Holy Spirit, recognized the apparent contradiction – for the sentence continues with a parenthetical clause:


“…(though at the time I had not set up the doors upon the gates;) …”

(Neh. 6:1)


Not quite finished; the doors were not set up. Builded is used. Then, after additional intrigue and prayers, he makes a point to tell us he did get the doors set up, and he reports in this context “…the wall was built…” (7:1)


"Now it came to pass, when the wall was built, and I had set up the door…."(7:1)


Now it’s finished, including the doors. Built isused.


Altar Building

Back to Genesis 12:7, 8; 22:9. Is there anything incomplete that would require the use of builded, rather than built? Check out the text of Gen. 22:9: Abraham built an altar there; why use built here? The answer is in 22:8: “ … so they went both of them together.


Back in the accounts of chapter 12: Isaac, the sacrifice, wasn’t with his father. Builded is used. Later, as recorded in chapter 22, Isaac is present, they are together. Built is used.


House Building

One more case:

“For every house is builded by some man; but he that built all things is God.”

Hebrews 3:4


Following our logic, we would expect to find words such as together and all connected with built; and a sense of incompleteness with builded. And, yes, this holds true here: all things follows built. Also note the actors (the builders): some man = builded; God = built. One is obviously secure, one isn’t.


And yet again, this is consistent with the theme of Hebrews. The First (O.T. system), represented by Moses and the Law, and revealed as some man, was incomplete; unable to complete the job of our salvation. Builded.


The Second (N.T. faith), presented by Christ, revealed as God, is better than the First in every way. It’s complete, it’s all. Built.


And, again, from Nehemiah:

“Now the city was large and great: but the people were few therein, and the houses were not builded” (Neh. 7:4).


Clearly the focus has been on building the wall, not their houses. Their houses were not completed; this is confirmed by the participle builded.


Dictionaries and “experts” have their place, but they often take the east route to explain differences between words like built and builded. Give the translators and the Holy Spirit the benefit of the doubt and thereby find real nuggets along the way. What an excellent communication tool we have in the Early Modern English of the Authorized Version (KJV).


Nugget or fool’s gold?


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