Exo.25:31 Is the Menorah (Candlestick) a "she" or "he" or an "it"?
Dr. Bobby Adams of Berea Baptist Church in Trenton TN, brought to my attention that scholars say KJV use of masculine his in reference to the Menorah in Exodus 25:31 is translation error. In this verse the imperfect verb in shall be made has a prefix indicative of female grammatical gender so that the literal Hebrew is she shall be made that is rendered it shall be made in modern versions. However, the real issue is the derivation of the term menorah from nur that means light and is of masculine grammatical gender. This is a case of recognizing, not just the physical construction of the Menorah, but what it signifies regarding God, which gives a new sense to each construction detail. The spiritual significance of each detail is more important than the literal physical nature. A subtle use of the pronoun his to refer to the Menorah is the proper way to lead readers to ponder spiritual significance, without departing from details of the physical description that keep the translation literal.
This entire matter relates to the building of the Tabernacle in the book of Exodus. KJV pronoun use in this matter varies with context. The ark of testimony, altar of burnt offerings, table of showbread and court of the tabernacle are topics prioritizing masculine grammatical gender (court is common gender, masculine or feminine, the latter being disregarded in KJV references to God), in regard to God’s relationship to Israel. These items in the KJV link to his when this relationship is emphasized (e.g. Exo.30:28, 31:9, 37:16, 35:17) and to it when the construction is emphasized (mainly in terms of dimensions: e.g. - Exo.25:10-12, 37:1-2, 37:10-13, 38:1-2).
The Menorah in Exo.25:31 is directly symbolic of God, as seen by the sense of light indicated by the term nur from which the term Menorah derives. God is Light (1 Jn. 1:5) by His Word, which was to be given to the world initially by Israel, but the nation failed in this matter. God’s Word is the agent of His light, and the church became the agent of the ministry of the Word after Israel failed in this (Rev.1:20).
The Menorah signifies God and His light by His Word, and He and His Word are of natural/grammatical masculine gender, accounting for his pronouns to refer to the Menorah in Exo.25:31. In the KJV, what the Menorah signifies is vital in translation when this, rather than the construction, is emphasized, so his applies to the Menorah (e.g. Exo.30:27, 31:8, 35:14, 37:17,20, Num.4:9, Zec.4:2), and his isn’t translation error. In English translation of the Hebrew, inanimate objects are usually called it, but when the construction is notably less specific, the spiritual significance of Tabernacle items prevails and his applies, God and His Word or God’s relationship to Israel being emphasized.
Now the fact that Rev.1:20 identifies candles of the candlestick as churches is clearly indicative of Christ the Living Word, and author of the written Word, as the ultimate means of giving forth the light of the Word to the world after Israel’s failure in this. Of course, Christ is of masculine gender, and churches existing in prefiguring form in the Old Testament era, as assemblies of God’s people, (Acts 7:38) are denoted by the Hebrew qahal that is of masculine grammatical gender, and feminine grammatical gender of the Greek ekklesia seems meant to emphasize the love that characterizes New Testament churches (John 13:35) that supersede the old type. This later sense of church has no effect on rendering pronouns relating to the Menorah.