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Monthly Bible Question | June

Was Joseph’s “coat of many colours” (Gen 37:3, KJV) actually multi-coloured?


The Hebrew word (passim) used to describe the tunic (ketonet) can have a range of meanings, from colourful; embroidered; striped; long-sleeved; long (reaching the ankles); or made from wool or silk. The Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, chose to translate the term passim as many-coloured, and this meaning was followed in the Latin Vulgate and early English translations of the Bible. However, other Greek translations of that time chose the meanings long or long-sleeved. English translations in use today vary – some continue to describe the garment as many-coloured or with long sleeves, but others use adjectives such as ornate (NIV) or beautiful (NLT).

Nobody knows for sure, but no matter what the original phrase was intended to signify, the main point is that Jacob singled out Joseph as favoured by giving him a robe that was special in some way, thereby arousing his brothers’ jealousy.

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