Luke 19:13 “OCCUPY till I come.”
Luke 19:13 KJB - “And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, OCCUPY till I come.”
NKJV (NASB) - “So he called ten of his servants, delivered to them ten minas, and said to them, ‘DO BUSINESS till I come.’
ESV - ENGAGE IN BUSINESS
NIV - PUT THIS MONEY TO WORK
There are no significant textual variants in this verse. The word translated in the KJB as “OCCUPY” and in others as something like “Trade” or “Do business” is “pragmateusasthe” - πραγματευσασθε
According to Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon 1889 page 534 the verb means “to be occupied in anything”, “to carry on a business”, “to carry on the business of a banker or trader”.
We see this use in the King James Bible and others too where it says in Ezekiel 27:9 - “all the ships of the sea with their mariners were in thee TO OCCUPY thy merchandise.”
So too read the English Revised Version 1881, Coverdale 1535, The Great Bible 1540, Mathew’s Bible 1549, the Bishop’s bible 1568, Geneva bible 1587, The Ancient Hebrew Bible 1907, The Jewish Virtual Library Full Text Tanach 1994, and the Hebrew Transliteration Bible 2010 and several others read “TO OCCUPY thy merchandise.”
“Syria was thy merchant by reason of the multitude of the wares of thy making: they OCCUPIED in thy fairs with emeralds, purple, and broidered work, and fine linen, and coral, and agate.” Ezekiel 27:16
“Dan also and Javan going to and fro OCCUPIED in thy fairs: bright iron, cassia, and calamus, were in thy market.” - Ezekiel 27:19
“Arabia, and all the princes of Kedar, they OCCUPIED with thee in lambs, and rams, and goats: in these were they thy merchants.
The merchants of Sheba and Raamah, they were thy merchants: they OCCUPIED in thy fairs with chief of all spices, and with all precious stones, and gold.” - Ezekiel 27:21-22
Liddell & Scott’s Lexicon 1887 page 582 the Greek verb means such things as “to be busy”, “to take trouble to make a thing one’s business”, “take in hand, treat of or labour to bring about”
In Modern Greek the verb still means “to treat or deal” with anything. The scope of this word is not limited to “making money” or “doing business”, though it can refer to this particular activity.
There is nothing specifically wrong with the modern versions, but my purpose for writing this study is to show that the King James Bible is not at all wrong for translating this phrase as “OCCUPY till I come.”
Even in English the verb “occupy”can refer to business, as in “What is your occupation?” - Genesis 46:33
“What is thine occupation? Jonah 1:8
“By their occupation they were tentmakers” - Acts 18:3
The Oxford Dictionary tells us that one of the definitions is “to hold a position or a job”.
The Macmillan Dictionary says “to have a particular job or position in an organization or system, especially an important one” - Members of the group occupy positions of power in the country.
And Webster’s New World College Dictionary lists - “to employ, busy, or engage (oneself, one's attention, mind, etc.)”
There is nothing wrong at all about the King James Bible translation of “OCCUPY till I come”. In fact, it lends itself quite well to the multiple shades of meaning this word carries, rather than just limiting it to “doing business”.
The KJB translators were well aware of the limited or specific sense of doing business. This is because both Tyndale 1525 and The Matthew Bible 1549 said: “BUY AND SELL till I come.” And they rejected this translation in favor of the more open ended “OCCUPY till I come.”
Not only does the King James Bible say “OCCUPY till I come” but so too do the following Bible translations - Coverdale 1535, The Great Bible 1540, the Bishops’ bible 1568, the Geneva Bible 1587, the Beza N.T. 1599, the Webster bible 1833, The Commonly Received Version 1851, The Revised N.T. 1862, The Tomson N.T. 2002, and The Hebrew Transliteration Bible 2010.
See the related topic of The "Old fashioned language" of the King James Bible.
"Archaic and Inerrant" beats "Modernized and Wrong" Any Day of the Week.
All of grace, believing the Book - the King James Holy Bible.