Another King James Bible Believer


What about the phrase "TO FETCH A COMPASS"?

What about the phrase "TO FETCH  COMPASS"?

Acts 28:12-13 "And landing at Syracuse, we tarried there three days. And from thence WE FETCHED A COMPASS, and came to Rhegium: and after one day the south wind blew, and we came the next day to Puteoli."

In his book, The King James Only Controversy, author James White says on page 234: "One could easily fill many pages with examples of unclear, difficult readings based upon archaic language from the KJV."

He then shows three verses where the phrase "fetch a compass" is used in the King James Bible, and then comments: "Surely 'fetched a compass' is a phrase that few modern readers, even those skilled in such things, would understand. Some might even think that the expression refers to an actual compass, which, of course, did not exist at the times in which these passages were written. This kind of difficult reading is hardly a rarity, especially in the Old Testament portion of the KJV." [End of James White's comments]


Of course Mr. White is trying to get us to abandon that dusty old King James Bible and embrace his new Vatican Versions like the NASB, ESV or the NIV. Apparently the facts that the NASB, ESV and NIV omit or substitute some 5000 words from the New Testament of the King James Bible (including 17 whole verses; 18 in the ESV) and they all often reject the Hebrew text in favor of the Greek Septuagint, Syriac, or the Vulgate; or the fact that they do not even agree with each other in hundreds of verses, and all contain provable contradictions and theological errors, is of little importance. The main thing Mr. White is concerned about is getting rid of difficult readings like "fetched a compass".

James White and others like him do not believe that any single Book called the Holy Bible is actually the complete, inerrant, inspired words of God. I know this for a fact, having read his book several times and having talked with him both on the radio and the internet.

All he has to recommend his readers are a variety of multiple-choice, Let's Hope They're Close Enuf, conflicting and contradictory "reliable versions". But an actual paper and ink Book we can hold in our hands and believe every word of it? Nah, no such thing exists in James White's thinking. 

In fact, James White is actually promoting what are the new Vatican Versions like the ESV, NIV, NASB, NET, Holman and anything based on the constantly changing UBS (Unitied Bible Society) - Nestle-Aland critical Greek texts.  See "James White, the Protestant Pope of the new Vatican Versions"

This phrase "to fetch a compass" admittedly is not as common as it once was, but if you merely think about it just a bit, you can easily figure out what it means. To fetch is to get or obtain, and a compass is something that forms a circle. So to fetch a compass means to go around or turn in a wide circular motion.

Do modern English versions still use such "archaic" words like "compass" and "fetch". Of course they do. In the 2001 English Standard Version we see the word "compass" meaning to circle something.

ESV 2 Samuel 22:5 "For the waves of death encompassed me, the torrents of destruction assailed me;

ESV 1 Kings 7:24 Under its brim were gourds, for ten cubits, compassing the sea all around. The gourds were in two rows, cast with it when it was cast.

ESV Psalm 22:12 Many bulls encompass me; strong bulls of Bashan surround me;

ESV Isaiah 44:13 The carpenter stretches a line; he marks it out with a pencil. He shapes it with planes and marks it with a compass.

Is fetch archaic? Not according to the NASB, NKJV, The Message and others.

NASB, NKJV -Job 36:3 "I will fetch my knowledge from afar, And I will ascribe righteousness to my Maker.

The Message -Deuteronomy 29:11 "...your babies, your wives, the resident foreigners in your camps who fetched your firewood and water"

The phrase "to fetch a compass" is found in the King James Holy Bible five times - 4 in the Old Testament and once in the New Testament.

Acts 28:13 - "And from thence WE FETCHED A COMPASS, and came to Rhegium".


Also reading "WE FETCHED A COMPASS" are Tyndale 1534 - "we fetched a compass".  Coverdale 1535, Matthew's Bible 1540, the Bishops' Bible 1568, Beza's New Testament 1599, The Hammond N.T. 1845, The Hussey N.T. 1845, The Revised New Testament 1862, The Dillard New Testament 1885 - "we FETCHED A COMPASS", The Word of Yah 1993, God's First Truth 1999, the Evidence Bible 2003, the Bond Slave Version 2009 and the Hebraic Transliteration Scripture 2010 all say: - "WE FETCHED A COMPASS."


The Geneva Bible 1599 and the Bill Bible 1681 say: "And from thence we set a compass".  The Tomson New Testament 2002 says - "we set a compass"


In the Old Testament the phrase "fetch a compass" occurs four times - Numbers 34:5; Joshua 15:3; 2 Samuel 5:23, and 2 Kings 3:9.

Numbers 34:5 "And the border shall fetch a compass from Azmon unto the river of Egypt..."

"shall fetch a compass" is also the reading of the Douay-Rheims 1610 - "And the limits shall fetch a compass from Asemona to the torrent of Egypt" even the 1950 Douay Version. The Great Bbile 1540, Matthew's Bible 1549 and the Bishops' Bible 1568 said: "And set a compasse agayne from Azmon." The Geneva Bible said "shall compass from Azmon unto the river of Egypt", while Wycliffe said: "shall go by compass".  


Other versions that still use the phrase "shall FETCH A COMPASS" here in Numbers 34:5 and the other places are The Jewish Family Bible 1864, The Revised English Version 1877, The Sharp Bible 1883,  The Ancient Hebrew Bible 1907 (Joshua 15:3 and 2 Samuel 5:23, 2 Kings 3:9), The Word of Yah 1993, God's First Truth 1999 - "and SHALL FETCH A COMPASS from the south up to Acrabim", Bond Slave Version 2009 and The Hebrew Transliteration Bible 2010 - "FETCH A COMPASS" and 

The Work of God’s Children Illustrated Bible 2011 - “The limits SHALL FETCH A COMPASS from Asemona to the torrent of Egypt, and shall end in the shore of the great sea.


In Joshua 15:3 we read: "And their south border....went up to Adar, and fetched a compass to Karkaa." This is also the reading of Coverdale 1535 and Webster's 1833 translation- "and fetched a compass to Karkaa" and The Ancient Hebrew Bible 1907. Matthew's Bible 1540 has: "and fette a compasse to Karca". The Bishops' Bible reads "and set a compass".

In 2 Samuel 5:23 when David was planning his strategy for attacking the Philistines we read: "And when David enquired of the LORD, he said, Thou shalt not go up; but FETCH A COMPASS behind them, and come upon them over against the mulberry trees." Webster's 1833 translation, The Ancient Hebrew Bible 1907 and the Douay Version of 1950 also say "fetch a compass behind them". The Geneva Bible says "set a compass".

2 Kings 3:9 "So the king of Israel went, and the king of Judah, and the king of Edom: and they FETCHED A COMPASS of seven days' journey." Webster's 1833 translation, The Ancient Hebrew Bible 1907 and the 1950 Douay Version also read this way.

This English expression is not that hard to figure out, and those who criticize it know full well what it means. What many may not be aware of is the fact that the phrase is still found in modern dictionaries.



1. To bear toward the person speaking, or the person or thing from whose point of view the action is contemplated; to go and bring; to get.

Time will run back and fetch the age of gold. --Milton.

He called to her, and said, Fetch me, I pray thee, a little water in a vessel, that I may drink. And as she was going to fetch it he called to her, and said, Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bred in thine hand. --1 Kings xvii. 11, 12.

2. To obtain as price or equivalent; to sell for.

Our native horses were held in small esteem, and fetched low prices. --Macaulay.

5. To bring to accomplishment; to achieve; to make; to perform, with certain objects; as, TO FETCH A COMPASS, to fetch a leap; to fetch a sigh.

6. To bring or get within reach by going; to reach; to arrive at; to attain; TO REACH BY SAILING.

Meantine flew our ships, and straight we fetched The siren's isle. --Chapman.


To fetch a compass - TO MAKE A CIRCUIT. 

Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary 1998

To Fetch

1 : to get and bring something; specifically : to retrieve killed game 2 : to take a roundabout way: TO CIRCLE 3 : to hold a course on a body of water

Webster's Dictionary 1913


The Collaborative International Dictionary of English



They fetched a compass of seven day's journey. 2 Kings iii. 9.

What many Christians seem to be unaware of, or even unconcerned about, regarding the Bible Version issue is that there is far more involved than just updating a few "archaic words".  


As I said before, the Vatican supervised text versions like the NASB, ESV and NIV omit or substitute some 5000 words from the New Testament of the King James Bible (including 17 whole verses; 18 in the ESV) and they all often reject the Hebrew text in favor of the Greek Septuagint, Syriac, or the Vulgate; or the fact that they do not even agree with each other in hundreds of verses, and all contain provable contradictions and theological errors, and NOBODY seriously defends any of them as being the inerrant words of God; not even the people who keep churning them out one new edition and "update" after another.

There is the supremely important question concerning the very words God Himself inspired. Do we have a complete, inerrant, infallible and inspired Bible today or not? God promised to preserve His words and the Lord Jesus Christ said "heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away." This is either a true statement or else the Lord Jesus lied to us.

Here are just two of the hundreds of examples that can be given to illustrate the point. Both are found in Acts chapter 28 where we find the expression "From thence we fetched a compass, and came to Rhegium."

In Acts 28:16 we read: "And when we came to Rome, THE CENTURION DELIVERED THE PRISONERS TO THE CAPTAIN OF THE GUARD: but Paul was suffered to dwell by himself with a soldier that kept him."

All the capital lettered words are found in the majority of all Greek texts, as well as some Old Latin copies, the Syriac Harclean, Coptic Sahidic and Slavonic ancient versions. These words are also in the NKJV, the Spanish Reina Valera, Italian Diodati, the modern Greek Bibles, Young's, Darby, Hebrew Names Version, and the previous English bibles of Tyndale, Coverdale, Bishops' Bible 1568, the Geneva Bible 1587, the Beza N.T. 1599, the Bill Bible 1671.

However, based on a few Greek manuscripts that constantly disagree with each other, modern versions like the NASB, NIV, RSV, ESV and Holman Standard omit all these capitalized words.


This entire verse is omitted from the text by such versions as the NIV, RSV, NRSV, ESV, The Message, the Jehovah Witness NWT. The NASB is of interest in that from 1960 through 1972 the NASB omitted this verse from its text and consigned it to a marginal note saying: "SOME manuscripts add..." Then in 1977 and again in 1995 the NASB decided to put the verse back in the text, but this time in brackets, indicating that it is not part of the original text. Then they footnote: "MANY manuscripts do not contain this verse."


All these words are found in the majority of all Greek texts, as well as in such ancient versions as the Old Latin copies of ar, c, gig, p, ph, w, the Syriac Peshitta, the Syriac Harclean, Armenian, Ethiopian, and Slavonic ancient versions and is quoted by church fathers including Chrysostom and Cassiodorus..


Among the English Bibles that include this entire verse are the following: Wycliffe 1395, Tyndale 1525, Coverdale 1535, the Great Bible 1540, Matthew's Bible 1549, the Bishops' Bible 1568, Geneva Bible 1587, the Beza N.T. 1599, the Douay-Rheims bible 1582, Wesley 1755, Worsley Version 1770, Haweis N.T. 1795, Thomson Bible 1808, The Revised Translation 1815, Dickinson N.T. 1833, Living Oracles 1835, Pickering N.T. 1840, the Smith Bible 1876, The Revised English Bible 1877, Darby 1890, Youngs 1898, Clarke N.T. 1913, Montgomery N.T. 1924, the NKJV 1982, the Amplified 1987, New Life Bible 1969, The Recovery N.T. 1985, The Word of Yah Bible 1993, the Third Millennium Bible 1998, The Koster Scriptures 1998, the Lawrie Translation 1998, The Worldwide English N.T. 1998, God's First Truth 1999, The Last Days N.T. 1999, the World English Bible 2000, the Tomson N.T. 2002, the  Apostolic Polyglot Bible 2003, New Heart English Bible 2003, the Pickering N.T. 2005, The Resurrection Life N.T. 2005, the Faithful N.T. 2009, the Holman Standard 2009, the Hebrew Transliteration Scripture 2010, Orthodox Jewish Bible 2011, the Aramaic Bible in Plain English 2010, Jubilee Bible 2010, The New European Version 2010, the Online Interlinear Bible 2010 (André de Mol), The Aramaic N.T. 2011, The Orthodox Jewish Bible 2011, The Work of God's Children Bible 2011, the Hebraic Roots Bible 2012, the Interlinear Hebrew-Greek Scriptures 2012 (Mebust),  the Biblos Interlinear Bible 2013, the Hebrew Names Version 2014, the 2014 Natural Israelite Bible, The Far Above All Translation 2014, The Modern Literal N.T. 2014, the Modern English Version 2014 and The International Children's Bible 2015.



Some of the new versions that often omit hundreds of words from the New Testament because of Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, have now gone back to including this verse in their texts; these include the [NASB], the New Century Version 2005, the Holman Standard 2009, the and The Voice of 2012.


Foreign Language Bibles

The entire verse is found in the following foreign language Bible versions: The Albanian, Arabic, Bulgarian, Chinese, Danish, Dutch, French Louis Segond, German Luther, Modern Greek, Gypsy Rhomanese, Haitian Creole, Modern Hebrew, Hungarian, Italian Diodati, Korean, Latvian, Maori Bible, Norwegian, Portuguese, Rumanian, Russian, Shuar N.T., Spanish Reina Valera, Turkish, Uma New Testament, and the Vietnamese Bible.

Yet in this country such versions as the RSV, NRSV, ESV, NIV, NASB, Holman Standard and The Message all omit this verse entirely from their New Testament text, or else they place it in brackets indicating it is not inspired Scripture.

It is a simple matter. Either these words and thousands of others found in the King James Bible are the inspired words of the living God or else they are human additions that have no place at all, even in brackets, in the Holy Bible.

You may settle for the Non Inspired Version if you want to, but I and thousands of other Bible believers will not settle for anything less than the Book God has continued to honor far above all others - the Authorized King James Holy Bible.

Will Kinney

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