“Trap” is a common description of what the Gospels describe (Matthew 9:13), but the origin of the word is less certain. It is believed that the word comes from the Old Testament word “tamrim”, meaning that a trap was set for a person (which, of course, is what Matthew is describing in this passage). However, it is also sometimes thought that the word came from the Greek “tacra,” meaning to lay (an “exposure”) to trap a person.
This is a difficult interpretation to resolve, as it seems that “trap” is a description of how a person would be approached by a predator, but that “tacra” also implies the predator will lie in ambush, and that he wants to set up a trap in order to deceive. We see no evidence that “tacra” was employed in this translation, especially in the Septuagint, of which the only manuscript currently extant is in the Greek translation of the New Testament, as the Septuagint reads “tacri.” This translates literally as “to set” (“expose”), but this does not have the same figurative intent, as we will discuss below.
According to one interpretation, “trap” is a rendering of the word with the meaning of a “cover”, i.e. a place or defense where a person is hidden, or perhaps more accurately, is made to appear. That meaning of “trap” makes sense, since an animal should be covered, not allowed to leave its territory. Thus, some believe the word is meant by Christians to be the origin of the word “trot” meaning “to set” and is used by the Jews to refer to their own particular and peculiar way of life, as well as to the modern term “traps”, for their tactics to keep out thieves and murderers.
According to this, the original meaning of “trap” was “to lie in ambush.” The Septuagint word “tacra” has a more literal meaning, meaning to set up a trap. Thus, one might conclude that the original meaning of the word “t Trap” is the same as the word “tacrus”, and that the translation is an attempt to preserve the original meaning. This is more possible, because the Septuagint translators made use of various transliterations of “t Trap,” such as “to set”, “to put to death”, and “to cover up.”
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