Is the King James word “borrow” a “mistranslation” in Exodus 3:22?


by Shawn Brasseaux

Notice the following three verses appearing in the King James Bible:

  • Exodus 3:22: “But every woman shall borrow of her neighbour, and of her that sojourneth in her house, jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment: and ye shall put them upon your sons, and upon your daughters; and ye shall spoil the Egyptians.”
  • Exodus 11:2: “Speak now in the ears of the people, and let every man borrow of his neighbour, and every woman of her neighbour, jewels of silver and jewels of gold.”
  • Exodus 12:35: “And the children of Israel did according to the word of Moses; and they borrowed of the Egyptians jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment:”

In the three instances above, the Jews “borrowed” from the Egyptians. King James Bible critics—always looking for any reason to gripe—say “borrow” is a “poor translation” or “wrong word.” They say it should read “ask.” According to them, the word “borrow” implies a temporary loan, and this would be impossible because we all know the Jews left Egypt, never returning the Egyptians’ possessions. So, we are now faced with two important questions. Have the King James Bible critics finally found an error? Or, is “borrow” a correct verb? Let us study the Bible to find out!

Read the following words from one Bible teacher who shares a common anti-KJV attitude: “In the King James the word is ‘borrowed’ and that is unfortunate, because when you borrow, what are you supposed to do? Give it back, and God never intended that. So, the word ‘borrowed’ should be ‘asked,’ and is in many translations.” These “many translations” he touts here are actually the modern English versions. Those books are marketed as “superior” and “improvements” to the King James Bible. Before we deal with Exodus and those three references to borrowing, it would do us well to remind ourselves of English Bible translation history.


Whether or not they realize it, all church members have been conditioned—or trained—to question and change the wording of the King James Bible to some extent. This is a result of Satan successfully introducing (corrupt) human reasoning into “Christian” educational systems. Friends, this is nothing new. The Devil has been attacking God’s Word relentlessly ever since Genesis chapter 3. Still, when it comes to the history of the English Bible, the battle has intensified in the last 135 years.

What makes 1881 such an important date is that it was when the Revised Version was first published in Great Britain. It was a “new translation” of a “new Greek text” based on the “oldest and best Bible manuscripts.” This New Testament (Old Testament was released in 1885) was actually an effort to challenge and eliminate the 1611 King James Bible from British Christianity. Roman Catholic Bible scholars, and their sympathizing Protestant colleagues, were tired of the 270-year-old “Protestant” Authorized Version (King James Bible). The 1881 Revised Version would hopefully replace it, allowing Roman Catholicism to regain its place in British churches and Bible schools. In order to boost the popularity of the Revised Version, the King James Bible was labeled “old,” “unscholarly,” and “riddled with errors.” (Sound familiar?!) What the general public did not know—and still does not know today—was that the Revised Version was a corruption of the King James Bible and not a correction of it! How so? The Revised Version was based on the manuscripts the Authorized Version translators had indeed known about nearly three centuries earlier but had rejected as being depraved and unreliable!!

What very few people know, even today, is that this—the late 19th century, not the 20th century—is actually where modern English versions began. Furthermore, very few people today are told what the Bible versions issue really involves. It is not about one set of Bible manuscripts being updated into modern English. It is all about an entirely different set of Bible manuscripts being brought into modern English. The King James Bible reads differently from the modern versions, not simply because of its older English, but because it and the modern versions are based on different manuscripts! Nearly every English Bible produced since 1881 has been influenced by these perverted “Alexandrian manuscripts and philosophies.” The King James Bible, on the other hand, was rendered from Antiochian manuscripts using correct translation methods (right text correctly translated). Another fact also withheld from the public is that the Alexandrian manuscripts are few in number and actually contradict each other. The King James manuscripts are in the thousands—the majority of existing manuscripts—and they are in very close agreement with each other.

For the last 135 years, vain human philosophy has increasingly dominated Christian thinking. With scholarship being infiltrated, Bible School materials and seminary curriculums reflect the Alexandrian textual ideas. Graduates of these schools—the so-called “higher” Christian thinking—are trained to believe three basic concepts: (1) there is no perfect Bible today, (2) the closest readings we have to the original manuscripts are in the Alexandrian Text not in the King James text, and (3) God will use their theological education to “refine” and “purify” the deficiencies of the Alexandrian Text. They are told that the King James Bible and its underlying manuscripts are “late,” “unscholarly,” and of no real authority. After being taught to argue with the King James Bible, cause people to doubt it, they graduate and proceed to lead our churches and write new “Christian” literature. The unsuspecting laymen will quote those anti-KJV commentaries, devotionals, books, and versions, deceived into thinking they are helping the Bible student when they are actually harming him or her by introducing unbelief and heresy!

The aforementioned Bible College and seminary graduates are eventually appointed to sit on translation committees of new Bible versions. While they may not agree on every point of doctrine, they share one idea—the King James Bible text is wrong, it needs to be improved, and thus the Alexandrian Text is to be preferred over the King James Majority Text. Now we understand why there is a constant push for other modern versions. They are operating under the assumption they are getting closer to the original Bible wording. In reality, they are deceived, and getting further from the truth!

During the last century, between 100 and 200 modern English versions—all based on that non-KJV, faulty 1881 Greek New Testament—have entered the Christian market and have been purchased by the well-intended, but ill-informed, public. This Greek New Testament and its resultant English translations gave more voice to the frequent anti-KJV remarks we read and hear even today (recall our remarks at the beginning of this study). When people offer “better” readings than what we find in the King James Bible, they are echoing the perverted teachings stretching back centuries, manuscript readings the Church the Body of Christ rejected as worthless, textual data the 1611 King James translators also refused to use. It is most serious!

Friend, here is what you need to know. Whenever you hear anyone talking about the King James Bible being wrong, you should outright dismiss him or her as knowing nothing about which he or she speaks. Such people are nothing more than Bible slanderers, repeating the nonsense they have heard others say. The King James Bible is right, and they can sulk and pout all they want. God’s Word is right and they are wrong. Period. They need to be quiet and go study their Bible before they start talking about it! They need to believe the Bible and stop discouraging others from believing it!


According to, the first definition of “borrow” is as follows: “to take or obtain with the promise to return the same or an equivalent.” A simple sentence is provided to demonstrate that sense: “Our neighbor borrowed my lawn mower.” This is the only sense of the word that the King James Bible critics evidently know. (Refer to the Bible teacher’s comments we started with—he claimed there was only one definition for “borrow.”) But, pay close attention here. Lexicographers—people who study languages and words professionally—agree “borrow” has a second meaning: “to use, appropriate, or introduce from another source or from a foreign source.” The dictionary provides two examples of this usage: “to borrow an idea from the opposition; to borrow a word from French.”

I would really like to know how the King James Bible critics would handle the phrase, “The English language is rich because it borrows many words from various other tongues.” Of course, they will see nothing with this word “borrows.” (Therefore, surely, they can be just a tad lenient on the King James translators for using the word in the same manner!) “Borrow” here, as well as in Exodus, is not the idea of temporary possession. The words the English language borrows from other languages are not returned to those languages—that is nonsense! No, “borrow” in that context means “take from another source.” Likewise, in Exodus, the goods were from the Egyptians and passed on to the Hebrews. Friends, there is nothing hard to understand here unless we are biased and want the King James Bible to be mistaken. It should be quite easy to grasp, unless we do not like the Bible and have an agenda to make it be wrong. The Bible believer will believe the Bible, no matter which “scholar” it contradicts.

Remember, friends, if we encounter a problem when reading the Authorized Version King James Bible, the problem is not with the King James Bible. God’s Word is perfect and thus has no problems. There is only one of two possibilities: (1) Our understanding of the English language is limited, and we had better get a dictionary; or, (2) we have a spiritual problem that we are allowing to interfere with our comprehension. We need to toss out the vain speculations of men and hold to the precious words of God! We will save ourselves much deception and headache!

“And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God…. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:4,5,13,14).


Exodus 12:36 says: “And the LORD gave the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they lent unto them such things as they required. And they spoiled the Egyptians.” The word “lent” here should also be understood in light of our main Bible study. Yes, “lent” can mean, “granted use of on condition that it or its equivalent will be returned.” Howbeit, it can also carry the sense of “gave or contributed obligingly or helpfully.” An example is, “She lent help to her neighbor.” (Notice the primary definition of “lent”—as in to take and use temporarily—does not work here. You cannot return “help,” but help can be “lent!”) Yet another definition of “lent” is “to furnish or impart.” Considering the context of Exodus 12:36, this is the most descriptive meaning of the usage in that verse. These Egyptians were frantically furnishing the Israelites with goods in order to get them to leave!

Again, friends, there is nothing difficult here unless we have an agenda geared toward unfairly attacking the King James Bible. As a brother in Christ often says, “We should not get angry at our Bible for knowing more about our language than we do!”

Also see:
» Is “Easter” a mistranslation in the King James Bible in Acts 12:4?
» Should the King James read “Christ” or “Lord” in 2 Thessalonians 2:2?
» Is Matthew 27:9 a mistake?