When thou comest nigh unto a city to fight against it, then proclaim peace unto it, Deuteronomy 20:10.
For those of you who understand that our King James Bible uses inflected pronouns and that the new bibles brag that they do not use such archaic fluff, we will take a look at what readers of those new bibles are missing. The results are popping up everywhere. First, we will review inflected pronouns.
The "T" pronouns are singular. The "Y" pronouns are plural.
Thee- singular You- plural
Thou- singular Ye- plural
Thine- singular Yours- plural
Thy- singular Your- plural
Why is that important? It is important because it makes our English Bible display the same exactness that Hebrew and Greek display when using pronouns. Our opening verse, Deuteronomy 20:10 is a perfect example of what we lose if we accept the slovenly verbiage of the contemporary bibles.
NIV: When you march up to attack a city, (collective responsibility, maybe?)
ESV: When you draw near to a city to fight against it, (Collective responsibility, maybe?)
NKJV: When you go near a city to fight against it, (Collective responsibility, maybe?)
King James Bible: When thou comest nigh unto a city to fight against it, (Individual responsibility, definitely.)
The pronouns of Deuteronomy 20 switch back and forth between the collective responsibilities shared by the congregation as a whole and the individual responsibilities required of each and every man. When the Lord directed Israel on how to approach a city for war, he directed that instruction to each man with the expectation that every man in that crowd should be instructed in how to lead Israel in war.
A man could not just "zone out" and daydream while these instructions were read assuming that it was not important to him. As an individual he was being prepared to be a leader of his people should the occasion arise. We see many times in the history of Israel when common men were called upon to take the initiative and to lead men into war. Think of Barack or Gideon. When they were commissioned to lead, they understood their responsibilities. Every single man instructed in the word of God understood how to be a leader.
Oliver Cromwell understood this when he created the New Model Army in which a peasant could rise to lead men if he demonstrated virtue and skill. Europe feared that army. The British Army that besieged Boston had forgotten that lesson. Historian David McCullough recounts how that the single most talented British officer in Boston in 1775-76 was only a major and because of his lowly birth would probably never rise further. As a result, far inferior men of more lordly birth and wealth outranked him and impeded his ability to suppress the rebellion.
Meanwhile, George Washington was well served by shop keepers, laborers and farmers who because they understood the commandments of God in individual responsibility rose quickly in rank and effectiveness. Historian Douglass Mastriano in his Biography of Alvin York gives us a more recent example of the individual yeoman rising suddenly in command, and because he was well versed in the word of God, he shirked not.
The story of Alvin York had become a target of naysayers who considered its claims to be embellished and far fetched. The idea that a single corporal commanding six other men could capture 132 seasoned German men and officers in a single engagement seemed far fetched and exaggerated. The French Military and the American Army both investigated the incident and were convinced that it happened as York had said. After the war, the German Army also investigated the incident. Nevertheless, over the years, the story seemed less and less credible.
After reviewing the German records and taking a forensic archeological team to the Argonne Forest, Mastriano discovered the exact spot. He uncovered every shell casing buried on the forest floor. He uncovered the dog tags of German soldiers listed as being in the engagement. He had the shell casings examined by an archeological forensic gun expert. He found the exact amount of casings from the exact type of firearms that York testified had been used and the individual casings were unique enough to prove that each gun type had been fired exactly as many times as had been testified. He found countless artifacts such as buttons and military insignia exactly in accordance with what York and his men later testified and even the German accounts corroborated.
Alvin York, a highly religious but barely educated Tennessee mountain man had assumed command of his remaining seven men and had performed the greatest feat of military valor in Western History.
It is no coincidence that this barely educated man should have instinctively taken command. His reading material had been a King James Bible. Go read the Book of Deuteronomy as Moses admonishes the people. Watch for the interchange between personal and collective responsibility. Oh the poor deluded right wing, conservative, blah blah blah religious right christians who complain about the dumbing down of our culture but who consciously, and with great gusto take away the greatest single tool that God ever gave the English Speaking People! These are the same people who gripe about the new math, falsified history, padded grading systems and every other evil perpetuated to push failing students through school. Then these same people turn around and hug little poopsie and tell him that “thee” and “thou” is too hard for him. I once attended a lecture in which a man educated in India had spoken about his wonderment at seeing that of the top 100 political thinkers in all of human history, 30 of them had come out of the Colonial United States. He wondered how one tiny nation of 3 million people could have achieved that.
After dismissing their schooling since almost all of them were schooled differently, and having dismissed their religion since almost all of them were from differing denominations, he realized that all of them were taught to think and reason out of a King James Bible. When you read behind these great men you realize that they did not speak King James English. Their English was far closer to ours today. Yet their parents were not the hapless dupes that we have today who slip easier texts to their unwitting progeny.
A great God has a great Bible. A great Bible makes a great people. It’s something God does but men are doing their best to undo.