Explaining Japanese Grammar in the Christmas Story, Verse 24, and a Commentary on Handling Problems as a Christian

If you saw the blog about why I go a verse at a time when I explain Korean grammar, you may understand that something similar is going on when I explain Japanese grammar. On top of that, Japanese has kanji (the pictographs) which slow me down and makes my vocabulary smaller. I am very thankful the Koreans in general don’t use these anymore. Besides all that, I only spent two years in Japan, but spent 14 years in Korea. It is going to give my Korean a better chance to develop, but with Japanese, I actually took college courses that got me started in Japanese and made me chosen a couple of times as a Japanese professor. And, those courses also helped me get started in Korean because I never had a chance to go to a university and study Japanese because I was too busy working, but when I studied the Korean books at home, knowing Japanese grammar first really helped me because the same principles apply to both languages.

So far, we have talked about the Japanese grammar in verses 18 through 23. Mary has come up pregnant, Joseph had a conundrum, and an angel visited Joseph telling him to go ahead and marry Mary. After that, Matthew quoted from the prophet Isaiah from Isaiah 7:14 that told Joseph just how special Jesus was going to be. Now, we are ready for verse 24。

ヨセフはねています。(Joseph was sleeping.)Photo by Marcelo Moreira on Pexels.com

Verse 24: ヨセフは  ねむりから さめた のちに、じゆの つかいが 命じたと おりに、マリヤを つまに むかえた。

ヨセフは= “Joseph.” It is written in katakana, the alphabet for foreign words. は is pronounced “wa” and is a post position particle telling you that ヨセフ (yosefu) is the subject.

ねむりから= “from sleep.” ”ねむり”(nemuri) is the noun for “sleep.” ねむる (nemuru) means “to sleep.” ねます (nemasu) is the form that means “sleep, sleeps, or will sleep.” ねています (neteimasu) is the form that means “is, are, or am sleeping.” ねました (nemashita) means “slept.” から (kara) means “from” or “because,” and in this case it is “from.”

さめた = “woke up.” さめた (sameta) is a past tense of させる(saseru) which means “to wake up.” 

のちに – “after.” のち (nochi) is the part that actually means “after.” に (ni) is a post position particle that tells you it is a specific point in time.

じゆの = “Lord’s.” じゆ (jiyu) means “Lord.” That の (no) is a post position particle that is a possessive like using an apostrophe “s.”

じゆのつかえはヨセフへ はなしました。(The Lord’s angel talked to Joseph.)Photo by Lindsey K on Pexels.com

つかえが = “message” or “dispatch” or “angel.” つかえ(tsuka-e) is the part that actually means “dispatch.” が (ga) is the post position particle that puts emphasize on つかえ。

めいじたと=”command” and is pronounced “me-i-ji-ta-to)

おりに = “at the time, came down” or “bowed.” This おり (ori) comes from 居ります(orimasu) meaning “come down, comes down, or will come down” or おりる (oriru) meaning “to come down.) に (ni) is a post position particle pointing to a particular time. This is the main verb of this clause, but the subject is left out in Japanese and left for us to figure out.

マリヤを = “Mary.” マリヤ (ma-ri-ya) is in katakana, so it means it is a foreign word. を (wo) or (o) is a post position particle that makes マリヤ the direct object.

ヨセフは マリアを つまりに むかえた。(Joseph welcomed Mary as his wife.)Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

つまに = “someone’s wife.” There is more than one word for “wife” in Japanese. おくさん (okusan) is the word for “wife” if you are talking about someone else’s wife. If you are talking about your own wife, say かない (kana-i) or つま (tsuma). に (ni) is a post position particle. I was taught to always use this before なります(narimasu) which means “become, becomes, or will become.” However, the next word is not “become,” but I understand why it is used here, because Mary became Joseph’s wife, and he “welcomed” her as his wife.

むかえた = “welcomed.” The verb for “to welcome” is むかえる(muka-eru). Out of むかえる、we get むかえた (muka-eta) which is a past tense form of むかえる.

Let’s put this all together:After Joseph woke up from sleep, he bowed to the Lord’s dispatch, and he welcomed Mary as his wife.”

I really can’t for the life of me figure out why the Japanese put up with the kanji. If I were them, I would be getting rid of the kanji and trying to teach people to be more specific when they speak. Especially, when it is a pronoun, they often leave it out and leave it up to the imagination of the person listening to figure the subject out. My Japanese teacher even discouraged me from learning all the Japanese pronouns. She told me that if I just had to say “he” or “she,” she wanted me to use あのかた (anokata) which means “that person.” However, I am used to being more specific when I speak, and I looked the words up for “he” and “she” and learned them, but I still used あのかた because my Japanese teacher told me to. It would be convenient to have a word like あのかた in English now a days because my daughter works with someone who used to be a girl, but had an operation to become a man. That person confuses everyone because they don’t know what to call them. My daughter’s boss said, “Just call them ‘they,’ ” and then they can’t get offended. However, we were playing a game, and someone asked the person to join, and when it was that person’s turn, someone asked, “Whose turn is it?” I said, “hers,” and then I corrected myself really quickly and said “his.” I was scared that someone would notice and become offended because that person, I have heard, becomes offended easily.

ときどき いちばん いい ことばを わかりません。(Sometimes, we don’t know the best word.)Photo by Moose Photos on Pexels.com

This person is in Oklahoma, but they came from California, and that kind of thing is very uncommon in Oklahoma. In fact, when they hired that person, they didn’t know they were really a girl, but a girl masquerading as a guy. The morals are much more conservative in Oklahoma, so I don’t even know why this person left California and came to Oklahoma. They exist, so as Christians, we have to learn what to do with them–What would God’s view be, and what would Jesus do? It is a very difficult question. I know someone whose best friend from high school became a gay after his divorce, and my friend was so upset he stopped associating with his best friend of many years because he disapproved of his friend’s morals. At least he didn’t beat the guy up like they used to do.

キリストきゅの 人たちは わるいでは ありません。(Christians are not bad guys.) けれども ぜんぶの ひとは わかりません。(But, everybody doesn’t know.) 私たちはキリストおなじようなにならなけりばなりません。(We must become like Christ.)Photo by Xiaoyu Chen on Pexels.com

When I taught at Ohio University, I was in charge of about thirty new teachers. I had to get to know these teachers who were under my charge because it was my job to help them and guide them. I found that among them, there were two lesbians and a gay guy. The gay guy stayed to himself, but the two lesbians were always talking to me. One of the lesbians just wasn’t a decent person at all. She was looking to condemn everyone around her. I also had a lesbian student there. I gave her a C on one of her essays, and she decided that I did it because I was a Christian, and so wanted to persecute her, which wasn’t true at all. I did it because her writing was tedious. She actually went to my boss and complained, and I had to sit down with her and explain what Christians were. She had no idea that Christians weren’t the bad guys. I gave her scriptures to show her that, yes, we thought what she was doing was a sin, but that we don’t intentionally treat anyone badly.

キリストはわたしを守ります。(Jesus protects us.) けれども私はしほりつもいります。(But. we also need new laws to protect us.)Photo by PhotoMIX Ltd. on Pexels.com

It seems that the transsexual at my daughter’s work seems to have her boss walking on pins and needles trying no to offend them. It isn’t right. We have freedom of speech in America, and we should not be afraid that if we say the wrong thing we will be sued, but my daughter’s boss is afraid. It is wrong.

イエスはなにをしますか?(What would Jesus do?)Photo by Emre Can on Pexels.com

My approach says “act like Christ.” When Jesus caught people about to throw rocks at a woman who had been caught in adultery, he said, “the one without sin should caste the first stone,” and everyone put their rocks down and left. However, he didn’t tell the woman to continue committing adultery. He said to her, “Go and sin no more.” That is the Christian approach. You can’t tell them that they are doing the right thing, but you don’t treat them badly either even if they make you uncomfortable.

I don’t agree with changing the pronouns like some have tried because that just confuses normal life. What they are doing is not normal, but we are asked to treat it as normal or they may come after us in court. Perhaps we need a pronoun like あのかた so we actually know what to call them, and perhaps we need some laws to protect us from them.

I am sorry I went off on a tangent, but I always like to explain things to the end. Japanese is ambiguous, and at times, we need to take their lead, but at other times, being ambiguous can be confusing like a transsexual bisexual which the person at my daughter’s work is. I just don’t understand how anyone could do that to themselves.

イエスはちきゅへきたからとてもうれしです。(I am very happy because Jesus came to the earth.)Photo by Bich Tran on Pexels.com

I am thankful that Cありません。hrist came into the world and showed us the way to handle our problems. Becoming a Christian doesn’t automatically get rid of every problem, but Christ shows us how to handle problems and how to stop from making problems worse. I am thankful that Joseph welcomed Mary and his wife. If he hadn’t, in those times, in that place, an unwed mother most certainly would have been stoned to death. Joseph did the right thing, and God helped him make his decision. He can help us make good decisions too. Study the teachings of Christ, and when you re confronted with a crazy problem you don’t know how to handle, Christ will have the answer.

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