[4] Disguised Confusing Footnote in the Brown-Driver-Briggs Lexicon

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The original BDB Hebrew lexicon was first published in 1907 by Oxford University Press. In 1979 this was reprinted by Hendrickson Publishers, who added Strong’s numbers to the Hebrew words, but kept the text and the page numbers the same. The 1979 edition also added a useful appendix with Strong’s numbers at the end. Long after this lexicon was completed in 1907, some important discoveries about some biblical Hebrew words have been made utilizing comparative Semitic languages, especially derived from excavations of Ugaritic writings north of Israel and the Dead Sea Scrolls south of Jerusalem. These discoveries affect the meanings of some Hebrew words. Nevertheless, for most words BDB remains an especially complete and useful reference work.

Sometime after the original 1907 edition was printed, the original publisher added a final chapter on pages 1119-1127 titled, “Addenda et Corrigenda”, which is a list of further notes and corrections. When Hendrickson Publishers decided to reprint BDB in 1979, instead of leaving this final chapter at the end, they took each entry and attempted to place it as a footnote on the same page as the word to which it adds or corrects.

Unfortunately, in some rare instances, the added note from the final chapter was too long to fully fit as a footnote on the same page as the original word, so that it was continued onto the next page without a clear warning near the bottom of the continuation page. This has deceived some sincere people on the continuation page for a critical Hebrew word concerning the calendar.

The Hebrew word chodesh, having Strong’s number 2320, is discussed on pages 294-295 of BDB, and is given the translation “new moon” or “month”. At the bottom of page 294 there is a difference between all printings from Oxford University Press compared to the 1979 edition. The 1979 edition has four extra lines at the bottom of the page, and some people have been led astray by not realizing that these four lines are the continuation of a footnote from the bottom of page 293 for the Hebrew verb
chadar, having Strong’s number 2314. Therefore, these four lines have nothing to do with chodesh, and they appear as a disguised confusing footnote. Part of this footnote says, “conceal behind curtain, conceal, confine”, and this gives the false impression that chodesh refers to the condition of the moon when it cannot be seen. In the chapter of “Addenda et Corrigenda” in the later reprints by Oxford University Press, this long note for chadar appears in the middle of column 1 on page 1123 where it specifies that it refers to the Hebrew word chadar from page 293. BDB
makes no implication at all concerning the appearance of the moon at the “new moon”. The new moon will be discussed below where it seems most appropriate.