backbites and backbiters
Backbiting is the slander of someone who is not present to defend themselves. The backbiter slanders or tells tales in secret without the subject’s knowledge.
The two Hebrew words translated backbiting in some Scriptures are cether and ragal (below).
Hebrew: סֵתֶר —transliteration: cether —meaning: a covering, hiding place, secrecy
Hebrew: רָגַל —transliteration: ragal —meaning: to go about on foot (maliciously or as an explorer or spy) —translations include: slander, slandered, spied, spies, spy, taught to walk
“He that backbiteth [ragal] not with his tongue…” —Psalm 15:3 KJV excerpt
For the same verse, the New King James Version says,
“He who does not backbite with his tongue…” —Psalm 15:3 NKJV excerpt
And the New American Standard Bible simply says “slander.”
“He does not slander with his tongue…” —Psalm 15:3 NASB excerpt
“A backbiting tongue” also appears in Proverbs 25:23 KJV; Prov. 25:23 NKJV; Prov. 25:23 NASB.
An equivalent word in Greek is κατάλαλος (transliteration: katalalos), meaning slander, slanderous, backbiting.
This word appears in Romans 1:30 where it is translated “slanderers” in the NASB and “backbiters” in the KJV and NKJV (Romans 1:30 NASB; Rom. 1:30 KJV; Rom. 1:30 NKJV).
2 Corinthians 12:20 and 1 Peter 2:1 use this word which refers to maliciously defaming (slandering) an absent person.
Other translation of cepher
In the following scripture, the Hebrew word cether is not translated as backbiting or slander, but rather as…
- “secret” —Judges 3:19 NASB; 1 Samuel 19:2 NASB; etc.
- “secretly” -Deuteronomy 13:6 NASB; Deut. 28:57 NASB; 2 Samuel 12:12 NASB; Job 13:10 NASB; Job 31:27 NASB; etc.
- “in secret” —Deuteronomy 27:15 NASB; Deut. 27:24 NASB; etc.
- “hiding place” —Deuteronomy 32:38 NASB; Job 22:14 NASB; Psalm 18:11 NASB; etc.
- “hidden part” —1 Samuel 25:20 NASB
- “covert” —Job 40:21 NASB
- “in the shelter ” —Psalm 91:1 NASB