Masoretic Text vs. Original Hebrew

The Masoretic Text is significantly different from the original Hebrew Scriptures.

I used to believe the Masoretic Text was a perfect copy of the original Old Testament.  I used to believe that the Masoretic Text was how God divinely preserved the Hebrew Scriptures throughout the ages.

I was wrong.

The oldest copies of the Masoretic Text only date back to the 10th century, nearly 1000 years after the time of Christ. And these texts differ from the originals in many specific ways. The Masoretic text is named after the Masoretes, who were scribes and Torah scholars who worked in the middle-east between the 7th and 11th centuries. The texts they received, and the edits they provided, ensured that the modern Jewish texts would manifest a notable departure from the original Hebrew Scriptures.

Historical research reveals five significant ways in which the Masoretic Text is different from the original Old Testament:

  1. The Masoretes admitted that they received corrupted texts to begin with.
  2. The Masoretic Text is written with a radically different alphabet than the original.
  3. The Masoretes added vowel points which did not exist in the original.
  4. The Masoretic Text excluded several books from the Old Testament scriptures.
  5. The Masoretic Text includes changes to prophecy and doctrine.

We will consider each point in turn:

Receiving Corrupted Texts

Many people believe that the ancient Hebrew text of Scripture was divinely preserved for many centuries, and was ultimately recorded in what we now call the “Masoretic Text”. But what did the Masoretes themselves believe?  Did they believe they were perfectly preserving the ancient text?  Did they even think they had received a perfect text to begin with?

History says “no” . . .

Scribal emendations – Tikkune Soferim

Early rabbinic sources, from around 200 CE, mention several passages of Scripture in which the conclusion is inevitable that the ancient reading must have differed from that of the present text. . . . Rabbi Simon ben Pazzi (3rd century) calls these readings “emendations of the Scribes” (tikkune Soferim; Midrash Genesis Rabbah xlix. 7), assuming that the Scribes actually made the changes. This view was adopted by the later Midrash and by the majority of Masoretes.

In other words, the Masorites themselves felt they had received a partly corrupted text.  

A stream cannot rise higher than its source.  If the texts they started with were corrupted, then even a perfect transmission of those texts would only serve to preserve the mistakes. Even if the Masoretes demonstrated great care when copying the texts, their diligence would not bring about the correction of even one error.

In addition to these intentional changes by Hebrew scribes, there also appear to be a number of accidental changes which they allowed to creep into the Hebrew text.  For example, consider Psalm 145 . . .

Psalm 145 is an acrostic poem. Each line of the Psalm starts with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Yet in the Masoretic Text, one of the lines is completely missing:

Psalm 145 is an acrostic psalm where each verse begins with the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet. In the Aleppo Codex the first verse begins with the letter aleph, the second with the beyt, the third with the gimel, and so on. Verse 13 begins with the letter מ (mem-top highlighted letter), the 13th letter of the Hebrew alphabet; the next verse begins with the letter ס (samech-bottom highlighted letter), the 15th letter of the Hebrew alphabet. There is no verse beginning with the 14th letter נ (nun).

Yet the Septuagint (LXX) Greek translation of the Old Testament does include the missing verse. And when that verse is translated back into Hebrew, it starts with the Hebrew letter נ (nun) which was missing from the Masoretic Text.

In the early 20th century, the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in caves near Qumran. They revealed an ancient Hebrew textual tradition which differed from the tradition preserved by the Masoretes. Written in Hebrew, copies of Psalm 145 were found which include the missing verse:

When we examine Psalm 145 from the Dead Sea Scrolls, we find between the verse beginning with the מ (mem-top) and the verse beginning with the ס (samech-bottom), the verse beginning with the letter נ (nun-center). This verse, missing from the Aleppo Codex, and missing from all modern Hebrew Bibles that are copied from this codex, but found in the Dead Sea Scrolls, says נאמן אלוהים בדבריו וחסיד בכול מעשיו (The Lord is faithful in His words and holy in all His works).

The missing verse reads, “The Lord is faithful in His words and holy in all His works.” This verse can be found in the Orthodox Study Bible, which relies on the Septuagint. But this verse is absent from the King James Version (KJV), the New King James Version (NKJV), the Douay-Rheims, the Complete Jewish Bible, and every other translation which is based on the Masoretic Text.

In this particular case, it is easy to demonstrate that the Masoretic Text is in error, for it is obvious that Psalm 145 was originally written as an acrostic Psalm. But what are we to make of the thousands of other locations where the Masoretic Text diverges from the Septuagint? If the Masoretic Text could completely erase an entire verse from one of the Psalms, how many other passages of Scripture have been edited? How many other verses have been erased?

God’s name is shown here in Paleo-Hebrew (top) and in modern Hebrew (bottom). Modern Hebrew letters would have been unrecognizable to Abraham, Moses, David, and most of the authors of the Old Testament.

A Radically Different Alphabet

If Moses were to see a copy of the Masoretic Text, he wouldn’t be able to read it.

As discussed in this recent post, the original Old Testament scriptures were written in Paleo-Hebrew, a text closely related to the ancient Phonecian writing system.

The Masoretic Text is written with an alphabet which was borrowed from Assyria (Persia) around the 6th-7th century B.C., and is almost 1000 years newer than the form of writing used by Moses, David, and most of the Old Testament authors.

Adding Vowel Points

For thousands of years, ancient Hebrew was only written with consonants, no vowels. When reading these texts, they had to supply all of the vowels from memory, based on oral tradition.

In Hebrew, just like modern languages, vowels can make a big difference. The change of a single vowel can radically change the meaning of a word. An example in English is the difference between “SLAP” and “SLIP”. These words have very different definitions. Yet if our language was written without vowels, both of these words would be written “SLP”. Thus the vowels are very important.

The most extensive change the Masoretes brought to the Hebrew text was the addition of vowel points. In an attempt to solidfy for all-time the “correct” readings of all the Hebrew Scriptures, the Masoretes added a series of dots to the text, identifying which vowel to use in any given location.

Adam Clarke, an 18th Century Protestant scholar, demonstrates that the vowel-point system is actually a running commentary which was incorporated into the text itself.
In the General Preface of his biblical commentary published in 1810, Clarke writes:

“The Masorets were the most extensive Jewish commentators which that nation could ever boast. The system of punctuation, probably invented by them, is a continual gloss on the Law and the Prophets; their vowel points, and prosaic and metrical accents, &c., give every word to which they are affixed a peculiar kind of meaning, which in their simple state, multitudes of them can by no means bear. The vowel points alone add whole conjugations to the language. This system is one of the most artificial, particular, and extensive comments ever written on the Word of God; for there is not one word in the Bible that is not the subject of a particular gloss through its influence.”

Another early scholar who investigated this matter was Louis Cappel, who wrote during the early 17th century. An article in the 1948 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica includes the following information regarding his research of the Masoretic Text:

“As a Hebrew scholar, he concluded that the vowel points and accents were not an original part of Hebrew, but were inserted by the Masorete Jews of Tiberias, not earlier then the 5th Century AD, and that the primitive Hebrew characters are Aramaic and were substituted for the more ancient at the time of the captivity. . . The various readings in the Old Testament Text and the differences between the ancient versions and the Masoretic Text convinced him that the integrity of the Hebrew text as held by Protestants, was untenable.”

Many Protestants love the Masoretic Text, believing it to be a trustworthy representation of the original Hebrew text of Scripture. Yet, at the same time, most Protestants reject Orthodox Church Tradition as being untrustworthy. They believe that the Church’s oral tradition could not possibly preserve Truth over a long period of time.

Therefore, the vowel points of the Masoretic Text put Protestants in a precarious position. If they believe that the Masoretic vowels are not trustworthy, then they call the Masoretic Text itself into question. But if they believe that the Masoretic vowels are trustworthy, then they are forced to believe that the Jews successfully preserved the vowels of Scripture for thousands of years, through oral tradition alone, until the Masoretes finally invented the vowel points hundreds of years after Christ. Either conclusion is at odds with mainstream Protestant thought.

Either oral tradition can be trusted, or it can’t. If it can be trusted, then there is no reason to reject the Traditions of the Orthodox Church, which have been preserved for nearly 2000 years. But if traditions are always untrustworthy, then the Masoretic vowel points are also untrustworthy, and should be rejected.

Excluding Books of Scripture from the Old Testament

The Masoretic Text promotes a canon of the Old Testament which is significantly shorter than the canon represented by the Septuagint. Meanwhile, Orthodox Christians and Catholics have Bibles which incorporate the canon of the Septuagint. The books of Scripture found in the Septuagint, but not found in the Masoretic Text, are commonly called either the Deuterocanon or the anagignoskomena. While it is outside the scope of this article to perform an in-depth study of the canon of Scripture, a few points relevant to the Masoretic Text should be made here:

  • With the exception of two books, the Deuterocanon was originally written in Hebrew.
  • In three places, the Talmud explicitly refers to the book of Sirach as “Scripture”.
  • Jesus celebrated Hanukkah, a feast which originates in the book of 1 Maccabees, and nowhere else in the Old Testament.
  • The New Testament book of Hebrews recounts the stories of multiple Old Testament saints, including a reference to martyrs in the book of 2 Maccabees.
  • The book of Wisdom includes a striking prophecy of Christ, and its fulfillment is recorded in Matthew 27.
  • Numerous findings among the Dead Sea Scrolls suggest the existence of 1st century Jewish communities which accepted many of the Deuterocanonical books as authentic Scripture.
  • Many thousands of 1st-century Christians were converts from Judaism. The early Church accepted the inspiration of the Deuterocanon, and frequently quoted authoritatively from books such as Wisdom, Sirach, and Tobit. This early Christian practice suggests that many Jews accepted these books, even prior to their conversion to Christianity.
  • Ethiopian Jews preserved the ancient Jewish acceptance of the Septuagint, including much of its canon of Scripture. Sirach, Judith, Baruch, and Tobit are among the books included in the canon of the Ethiopian Jews.

These reasons, among others, suggest the existence of a large 1st-century Jewish community which accepted the Deuterocanon as inspired Scripture. 

Changes to Prophecy and Doctrine

When compiling any given passage of Scripture, the Masoretes had to choose among multiple versions of the ancient Hebrew texts. In some cases the textual differences were relatively inconsequential. For example, two texts may differ over the spelling of a person’s name.

However, in other cases they were presented with textual variants which made a considerable impact upon doctrine or prophecy. In cases like these, were the Masoretes completely objective? Or did their anti-Christian biases influence any of their editing decisions?

In the 2nd century A.D., hundreds of years before the time of the Masoretes, Justin Martyr investigated a number of Old Testament texts in various Jewish synagogues.
He ultimately concluded that the Jews who had rejected Christ had also rejected the Septuagint, and were now tampering with the Hebrew Scriptures themselves:

“But I am far from putting reliance in your teachers, who refuse to admit that the interpretation made by the seventy elders who were with Ptolemy [king] of the Egyptians is a correct one; and they attempt to frame another. And I wish you to observe, that they have altogether taken away many Scriptures from the [Septuagint] translations effected by those seventy elders who were with Ptolemy, and by which this very man who was crucified is proved to have been set forth expressly as God, and man, and as being crucified, and as dying” (~150 A.D., Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho the Jew, Chapter LXXI)

If Justin Martyr’s findings are correct, then it is likely that the Masoretes inherited a Hebrew textual tradition which had already been corrupted with an anti-Christian bias. And if we look at some of the most significant differences between the Septuagint and the Masoretic Text, that is precisely what we see. For example, consider the following comparisons:

These are not random, inconsequential differences between the texts. Rather, these appear to be places where the Masoretes (or their forebears) had a varied selection of texts to consider, and their decisions were influenced by anti-Christian bias. Simply by choosing one Hebrew text over another, they were able to subvert the Incarnation, the virgin birth, the deity of Christ, His healing of the blind, His crucifixion, and His salvation of the Gentiles. The Jewish scribes were able to edit Jesus out of many important passages, simply by rejecting one Hebrew text, and selecting (or editing) another text instead.

Thus, the Masoretic Text has not perfectly preserved the original Hebrew text of Scripture. The Masoretes received corrupted texts to begin with, they used an alphabet which was radically different from the original Hebrew, they added countless vowel points which did not exist in the original, they excluded several books from the Old Testament scriptures, and they included a number of significant changes to prophecy and doctrine.

It would seem that the Septuagint (LXX) translation is not only far more ancient than the Masoretic Text . . . the Septuagint is far more accurate as well. It is a more faithful representation of the original Hebrew Scriptures.

Perhaps that is why Jesus and the apostles frequently quoted from the Septuagint, and accorded it full authority as the inspired Word of God.

About Dn Joseph Gleason

I am a contributor to On Behalf of All, a simple blog about Orthodox Christianity, theology, and philosophy, written from the diaspora of North America. I am also the Deacon of Christ the King Orthodox Church in Omaha, Illinois, and am blessed with seven children and one lovely wife.
This entry was posted in Holy Scripture, Masoretic Text, Septuagint, The Canon of Scripture. Bookmark the permalink.

40 Responses to Masoretic Text vs. Original Hebrew

  1. tpkatsa says:

    I would add that St. Luke seems to have also quoted from the Septuagint.

    “Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan, figures which ye made to worship them: and I will carry you away beyond Babylon.” -Acts 7:43

    This is “Remphan” occurs in Amos 5:26 in the Septuagint but not in the KJV. Amos 5:26 says, “[26] But ye have borne the tabernacle of your Moloch and Chiun your images, the star of your god, which ye made to yourselves.” in the KJV.

    But in the Greek Septuagint, Amos 5:26 says, “Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Raephan, the images of them which ye made for yourselves.”

    This is much, much closer textually, is it not?

    Also didn’t Our Lord Himself quote from the Septuagint whilst He was personally present here on earth? You may want to include that as well.

    Could you also write a piece regarding the NKJV on with the OSB NT is based? I had a conversation with Fr. Peter Gillquist about this and he said to me that for the NT, the NKJV is a solid translation. However, I’ve always had nagging doubts about the NKJV, and I wish that the OSB had included either the KJV or a more “Orthodox” translation of the NT. I have a NT from Holy Apostles Convent which seems to be pretty good, based on the Greek text accepted by the Greek Orthodox Church in 1912 and the King James Version. It reads similarly to the KJV however in some places the translation is so literal with progressive tenses as to be almost awkward, e.g. “Keep on believing in Me” instead of simply “Believe in Me.”

    • Vincent says:

      You are correct that the Lord quoted from the Greek version of the scriptures repeatedly. There are, in fact, only 4 quotations from the old testament in the new that do not directly correlate to the LXX (and they don’t necessarily correlate to the Masoretic Text, either). It appears that there were multiple texts to choose from in the first century, and they were “all good.” The idea of a monolithic genetical text is a modern concept that is anachronistically forced into these discussions (for a variety of reasons or motives).

  2. passin by says:

    Thank you for this article. It helps in my personal study and understanding.

    i am struck by the something though; that far too many labour under the assumption and impression that a pagan tongue would be preferred to that in which YHUH wrote his 10 Sayings/Commandments (Paleo Hebrew). Aramaic was more familiar to the Hebrews; after all Aram is their cousin and also a descendant of Sham/Shem. So why would they speak Greek?

    Josephus relates that it was forbidden for even the learned Hebrew to study or speak the language of the oppressor and pagans (“touch not the unclean thing”) which would have contained references to foreign and false el’hym/g-ds (Imagine giving our Saviour the highest praise via the supreme false el/g-d Zeus, “dj-eus”; well that’s exactly what Pagan-Christianity does today; and partly from which “J-sus” is derived). After all Maccabees is all about the controversy of some of Y’shral/Israel, including the kohan ha gadol/high priest Yahusha/Jason, willingly becoming Hellenized against YHUH’s Twrth/Instructions to Y’shral. The resulting resistance by faithful Hebrews to Greek forced integration was a bloody conflict; Y’shral’s courageous fight for “religious freedom” and national survival which ended in victory and the miracle during the re-dedication of the Temple–aka Hanukkah. Why would the descendants speak Greek in YaHUShA’s (“J-sus’) time knowing that terrible history? They would have resisted out of respect.

    YaHUShA quoted from the original Hebrew Scriptures as he taught the people in Aramaic (by then the common Shamitic language of the people); he was at odds with the Pharisees/Talmudists (oral law/traditions of the fathers) and clarified the written and only Twrth/Instructions from YHUH for our personal understanding. Remember, he referred to the not one yad/”yod” along with the “stroke” of Aramaic being changed in Twrth/Instructions until all be fulfilled (including Chizun/Revelation); because only in Aramaic is the yad/”yod” the smallest compared with Paleo Hebrew; there is no yad in Greek. The “Syro-Phoenecian” (“Syriac”) woman pleaded her case in Aramaic (that was the Syrian/Phoenecian language after all). i think YaHUShA’s mother taught him Hebrew using the Twrth/Instructions and other original Hebrew Scripture (perhaps with help of cousins “Elizabeth” and her kohan/priest husband “Zacharias” along with others–remember Anna the prophetess and Shimon/Simeon the righteous?); this might explain why the learned scribes and pharisees were so amazed at the knowledge and genius of an “untaught” 12 year old YaHUShA discussing the Hebrew Scripture with them.

    During our Saviour’s time, the Hebrews were living amongst foreigners speaking Greek and “Latin”; so wouldn’t Latin be the official spoken language? Could the presumption be based on the existence and greater accuracy of and, hence, greater level of respect shown for the Scripture by the Greek Septuagint? It’s a nice romantic notion as that translation is closer to the original intent of the Hebrew (and modern society thinks itself Greek in aspect). But loyalty to Yerushalayim and YHUH would have been the order of the day for the Hebrews. Also, YaHUShA was revealing and restoring the use of YHUH’s name (in Hebrew); he was in great trouble with the Pharisees (Yhuchn’n/John 17) who prohibited its utterance. And some time ago i discovered evidence exists (from the “fathers” of the pagan “church”) that MattithYaHU/Matthew was originally written in Hebrew; and perhaps the other 3 testimonies.

    As you say, “A stream cannot rise higher than its source…” Where the Scriptures are concerned, there is a big coverup extending from the Masoretes on down to us; Pagan-Christianity is complicit as well because it erroneously believes (or was taught to believe) that it “replaces” Y’shral; like the Masoretes it manufactures evidence to this effect by means of false or twisted doctrine, persecution, diminishing (“taking away”/withholding) the letter and Spirit of the Scripture, integrating/synthesizing/replacing (“anti-Christing”) Pagan ideas and practices, et alii. The Masoretes are not the only ones who pushed/or are pushing an agenda. Sadly, YHUH’s word is being attacked from all sides.

    Thankfully, according to YermeYaHU/Jeremiah 31, each of us can personally study, research, and discuss these matters with the great help of YHUH’s Ruach/Spirit leading us into all Truth. Truly we are a perverse generation. May YHUH have mercy on our souls. YaHUShA is our only hope.

    Shalwm.
    TP.

    • Vincent says:

      With all due respect, it is beyond laughable to even hint at the possibility that Jews in the late BC and first century AD weren’t fluent in Greek and that this served as their predominant language. The entirety of Jewish culture, tradition and story was steeped in Hellenism at this point in history, and we can see this quite clearly in not only the canonical texts of the Makkabees and Ben-Sirach, but also in the documents and ideas at Qumran. When the Jews met in the synagogue and heard the scrolls read, it was done in Greek. There’s no doubt about it. Aramaic-Hebrew was around, for sure, but the true Hebrew language was all but dead at this point in history, and only the priests were skilled in it.

  3. Darrell K. Whitfield says:

    HAs anyone considered the Pentatuach held buy the Samaritans in all this discussion. Is there a Hebrew text that the Greek Sepuegent was taken from? What is the Vorlage text I hear in these discussions? How does the Aramaic Tanach and Peshitta and Old Syriac text of the NEw Testament fit into all this?

  4. Jared mirera moranga says:

    Need to know much.

  5. gnostic says:

    I have always held the belief that many scriptures were written in, changed or left out completly. It would be nice for the whole truth, nothing but the truth could come out once and for all in both the old and new testaments. It has always been a mystery to me why the protestants dont inlude the book of the macabees in thier bible while the catholics do, just as an example.

  6. avi says:

    what about almah?

  7. Martina Roux says:

    Thankyou for this valuable info. Please could you email me a copy or place it on my f/b wall. I really appreciate your posts.

  8. LatterDayEsther says:

    Yes, it would be the best of all possible occurrences to be able to know the whole truth and nothing but the truth. For this I pray daily.

  9. There were actually two competing schools of Masoretes, one in Babylon, the other in Tiberius, each with its own set of traditions. For example, Zechariah 14:5 is rendered differently in the Palestinian manuscripts than it is in the Babylonian manuscripts. The latter reading is identical to the reading found in the targums (ie., Targum Jonathan to the Prophets), which suggests a Babylonian influence over Palestinian liturgy during a certain period. The western Masoretic reading of this verse eventually became the official Hebrew version. The LXX contains a reading that differs markedly from all of the above, and all evidence indicates that it is the correct reading – http://zechariahfourteenfive.wordpress.com.

  10. Pingback: Eastern Orthodox view on Salvation? - Page 21 - Christian Forums

  11. Antonios says:

    I have just published the Hebrew-Greek dictionary of the O.T.of 1842 by I.LOWNDES.Also the Pentatefxos and the Poetic books.GOD willing the historical and prophetic books will be published by the end of 1212.
    The format which i have used is the Septuagint in one column verse by verse ,and the masoretic text (BAMBAS TRANSLATION OF 1848) verse by verse in another column in the same page.
    Above every word in the Bambas translation is the the STRONG’S number that will give you the Hebrew word in the the dictionary. I did this in order to provide the Greek researcher, who does not know Hebrew or English. the right tools.
    Reading your notes on the masoretic text i am thinking that it will be of a great benefit to show these differences by underlining these words or passages that were added or deleted in the masoretic text.I know that this will not be easy but i think it will be worth it.
    Now my question is. Do you know any book or article that contains ALL the diferencses?
    I WILL GREATLY APPRECIATE IF YOU CAN HELP ME.
    MAY THE LORD JESUS BLESS YOU.
    THANK YOU
    ANTONIOS

  12. allison says:

    Excellent research! I will be using some of your findings in Masoretic Text vs. Original Hebrew in my catechism lessons and would like to include the proper citation; please send me the info.
    thank you for you scholarship

  13. Interesting article and useful to me. I am studying the morphology of the words sheol and olam and cited your article in a blog post called “How Sheol became Hell”. I see I will have to re-investigate and change some things. I was particularly interested in the conclusion that altho the Septuagint is Greek it treated the writings with more respect that the Masoretic texts. I would like to see more deeply into Palleo-Hebrew and what sources there are in relation to my study.
    The formative stage of my thesis is the home page on the web-site listed in my details below.

    Sheol >Hades >Inferno >Hell
    Hebrew >Greek >Latin >English
    Paleo-Hebrew*>Septuagint>Latin Vulgate>KJV

    *https://theorthodoxlife.wordpress.com/2012/03/12/masoretic-text-vs-original-hebrew/

  14. Mike says:

    I am learning Hebrew and just came onto this article. I was reading an online Hebrew Bible and right away noticed a word that is wrong in Genesis 1:2 according to my Strongs Concordance and Dr Bullinger’s companion Bible. I am assuming that the online version I saw has the same problems as what you have cited here and the same problems as the newer Bibles have. My personal belief is it is done on purpose. Is there a Hebrew Bible I can buy that has not been tampered with so much? A real one?
    Thank You

  15. konwayk says:

    As you know, there are several amount of errors and contradictions in Hebrew Masoretic Text. But many of these errors are cleared by Aramaic Peshitta Tanakh (Aramaic Old Testament). Aramaic Peshitta Tanakh is the ancient Scriptures translated into Lishana Aramaya (Aramaic language) from the original Hebrew text which pre-dated the Greek Septuagint text (LXX). Aramaic Peshitta Tanakh (Aramaic Old Testament) was completed during the first century AD.

    Here are some of the errors and contradictions in Hebrew Masoretic Text cleared by Aramaic Peshitta Tanakh.

    1) Exodus 6:20 (KJV) – And Amram took him Jochebed his father’s sister to wife; and she bare him Aaron and Moses: and the years of the life of Amram were an hundred and thirty and seven years.

    Exodus 6:20 (NIV) – Amram married his father’s sister Jochebed, who bore him Aaron and Moses. Amram lived 137 years.

    Exodus 6:20 (1917 JPS Tanakh English translation of Hebrew Masoretic Text) – “And Amram took him Jochebed his father’s sister to wife; and she bore him Aaron and Moses. And the years of the life of Amram were a hundred and thirty and seven years.“

    Here is the link (below) to this verse in Hebrew Masoretic Text. Exodus 6:20 in Hebrew Masoretic Text agrees with KJV, NIV, and 1917 JPS Tanakh English translation.

    http://qbible.com/hebrew-old-testament/exodus/6.html

    Is this true? Well, Let’s look at Peshitta Tanakh (Aramaic Old Testament) and also Septuagint.

    Exodus 6:20 (Samuel Bagster & Sons’ Translation from Septuagint) – “And Ambram took to wife Jochabed the daughter of his father’s brother, and she bore to him both Aaron and Moses, and Mariam their sister; and the years of the life of Ambram were a hundred and thirty-two years.“

    Here is a link to check this information – http://ecmarsh.com/lxx/Exodus/index.htm

    Exodus 6:20 (George Lamsa’s translation of Peshitta Tanakh)- “And Amram took his uncle’s daughter Jokhaber, and she bore him Aaron, Moses, and Miriam; and the years of the life of Amram were a hundred and thirty-seven years.”

    Lamsa wrote “uncle’s daughter“ instead of writing the daughter of his father’s brother.

    Let’s also look at John Wycliffe’s translation.

    Exodus 6:20 (John Wycliffe’s translation) – “Forsothe Amram took a wijf, Jocabed, douytir of his fadris brother, and sche childide to hym Aaron, and Moises, and Marie; and the yeeris of lijf of Amram weren an hundred and seuene and thretti.”

    Here is a link – http://wesley.nnu.edu/fileadmin/imported_site/biblical_studies/wycliffe/Exo.txt

    Compared to Peshitta Tanakh and Wycliffe’s translation, the difference with Septuagint is that it says the years of the life of Ambram were a hundred and thirty-two years.

    Peshitta Tanakh and Wycliffe’s translation agree with Hebrew Masoretic Text about Ambram’s age.

    2) Genesis 2:2 (1917 JPS Tanakh English translation of Hebrew Masoretic Text) – “And on the seventh day God finished His work which He had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made.”

    Here is the link (below) to this verse in Hebrew Masoretic Text. Genesis 2:2 in Hebrew Masoretic Text agrees with 1917 JPS Tanakh English Translation.

    http://qbible.com/hebrew-old-testament/genesis/2.html

    Let’s look at Septuagint.

    Genesis 2:2 (Translation from Septuagint) – “And God finished on the sixth day his works which he made, and he ceased on the seventh day from all his works which he made.”

    Here is the link to check this verse – http://ecmarsh.com/lxx/Genesis/index.htm

    Genesis 2:2 (George Lamsa’s translation of Peshitta Tanakh) – “And on the sixth day God, finished his works which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his works which he had made.”

    In Hebrew Masoretic Text, it says “seventh day” (in Genesis 2:2), is in contradiction to Exodus 20:11 (in Hebrew Masoretic Text) where it says “six days.”

    But Peshitta Tanakh has no such contradiction.

    3) Exodus 20:7 (look at the differences below)

    Peshitta Tanakh – “You shall not swear falsely in the name of MarYah your Alaha, for MarYah will not consider him innocent who swears falsely in his Name… for MarYah made the heavens and the earth, the seas and all that is with them in six days, and rested on the seventh day; for that reason, Alaha blessed the seventh day and made it holy {or, sanctified it}.”

    LXX – (Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord thy God will not acquit him that takes his name in vain… For in six days the Lord made the heaven and the earth, and the sea and all things in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the seventh day, and hallowed it. – Brenton)

    Hebrew Masoretic – You shall not take the name of Yahweh your God in vain; for Yahweh will not allow to go unpunished he who takes his name in vain… For in six days Yahweh made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all which is in them. And he rested on the seventh day; thus, Yahweh blessed the seventh day and sanctified it.

    KJV (King James Version) – Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain… For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

    4) 2 Kings 8:26 & 2 Chronicles 22:2

    2 Kings 8:26 (Hebrew Masoretic Text) – “Two and twenty years old was Ahaziah when he began to reign; and he reigned one year in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Athaliah the daughter of Omri king of Israel.”

    2 Chronicles 22:2 (Hebrew Masoretic Text) – “Forty and two years old was Ahaziah when he began to reign; and he reigned one year in Jerusalem; and his mother’s name was Athaliah the daughter of Omri.”

    2 King 8:26 of Hebrew Masoretic Text, it says Ahaziah was 22 years old. But in 2 Chronicles 22:2, it says Ahaziah was 42 years old.

    Does Peshitta Tanakh has this contradiction?

    2 Kings 8:26 – Lamsa Translation of Peshitta Tanakh

    Ahaziah was twenty-two years old when he began to reign; and he reigned one year in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Athaliah, the daughter of Omri king of Israel.

    2 Chronicles 22:2 – Lamsa Translation of Peshitta Tanakh

    Twenty-two years old was Ahaziah when he began to reign, and he reigned one year in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Athaliah the daughter of Omri.

    Peshitta Tanakh clears the contradiction found in Hebrew Masoretic Text.

    5) Did Joram marry the daughter of Ahab or the sister of Ahab?

    2 Kings 8:16-18 (Hebrew Masoretic Text) – “And in the fifth year of Joram the son of Ahab king of Israel, Jehoshaphat being the king of Judah, Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat king of Judah began to reign. Thirty and two years old was he when he began to reign; and he reigned eight years in Jerusalem. And he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, as did the house of Ahab; for he had the daughter of Ahab to wife; and he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD.”

    2 Kings 8:24 (Hebrew Masoretic Text) – “And Joram slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David; and Ahaziah his son reigned in his stead.”

    Through this, we know that Athaliah was the wife of Joram and their son was Ahaziah. But in 2 Kings 8:26 & 2 Chronicles 22:2, it says Athaliah was the daughter of Omri and Athaliah was the mother of Ahaziah. But in 2 Kings 8:16-18, we read Athaliah was the daughter of Ahab. In 1 Kings 16:29-30, we know that Ahab was the son of Omri.

    What does Peshitta Tanakh say about this contradiction?

    2 Kings 8:16-18 (Lamsa Translation of Peshitta Tanakh) – “And in the fifth year of Joram the son of Ahab king of Israel. Joram the son of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, began to reign. He was thirty-two years old when he began to reign; and he reigned eight years in Jerusalem. And he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, as did the house of Ahab; for the sister of Ahab was his wife; and he did evil in the sight of the LORD.”

    Unlike 2 Kings 8:16-18 of Hebrew Masoretic Text, Peshitta Tanakh points out that Joram married a sister of Ahab. Through this, the contradictions in Hebrew Masoretic Text are cleared by Peshitta Tanakh. Ahab was the son of Omri and Athaliah was the daughter of Omri.

    6) Was Jehoiachin 8 years old (2Chronicles 36:9) or 18 years old (2Kings 24:8) when he began to reign?

    2 Kings 24:8 (Hebrew Masoretic Text) – “Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he began to reign; and he reigned in Jerusalem three months; and his mother’s name was Nehushta the daughter of Elnathan of Jerusalem.”

    2 Chronicles 36:9 (Hebrew Masoretic Text) – “Jehoiachin was eight years old when he began to reign; and he reigned three months and ten days in Jerusalem; and he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD.”

    It says Jehoiachin was eighteen years old in 2 Kings 24:8 and Jehoiachin was eight years old in 2 Chronicles 36:9. What does Peshitta Tanakh say about this contradiction?

    2Chronicles 36:9 (Lamsa translation of Peshitta Tanakh) – “Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he began to reign, and he reigned three months and ten days in Jerusalem; and he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD.”

    2Kings 24:8 (Lamsa Translation of Peshitta Tanakh) – “Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he began to reign, and he reigned three months in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Nehushta, the daughter of Eliathan of Jerusalem.”

    Both 2 Chronicles 36:9 and 2 Kings 24:8 says Jehoiachin was eighteen years old. This contradiction in Hebrew Masoretic Text is cleared by Peshitta Tanakh.

    7) 1 Samuel 13:5
    1 Samuel 13:5 (Hebrew Masoretic Text) – “And the Philistines assembled themselves together to fight with Israel, thirty thousand chariots, and six thousand horsemen, and people as the sand which is on the sea-shore in multitude; and they came up, and pitched in Michmas, eastward of Beth-aven.”
    There are 30,000 chariots. But there are only 6000 horsemen? There is something strange here.
    Let’s look at Peshitta Tanakh.
    1 Samuel 13:5 (Lamsa Translation of Peshitta Tanakh) – “And the Philistines gathered themselves together to fight with Israel, three thousand chariots, and six thousand horsemen, and people as the sand which is on the seashore in multitude; and they came up and encamped in Michmash, east of Beth-el.”
    In Peshitta Tanakh, it says there were 3000 chariots instead of 30,000 chariots in Hebrew Masoretic Text. This makes much more sense.

    In Peshitta Tanakh, it says Beth-el. But Hebrew Masoretic Text has Beth-aven.

    Its also possible that books like Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles, Zachariah, Haggai, Malachi, Judith, 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees, 3 Maccabees, 4 Maccabees, were originally written in Aramaic since they were written after Babylonian exile.

    Lamsa translation of Peshitta Tanakh is the only current available English Translation of Peshitta Tanakh. His translation is alright. It’s not great.

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  19. Reblogged this on Focused and Free and commented:
    This is more info that MAINSTREAM CHRISTIANITY chooses to ignore and use to their advantage.

  20. Bill Winkelman says:

    This is amazing. I am not bragging, but some years back, after studying the life and work of Jerome, I suspected that going to the Masoretic was a childish and extremely foolish mistake. If there is anything that Christians should understand, it is the consistently dishonest scholarship of apostates (in this case, Jews after the coming of our Lord). Of course they tampered with the text! Jerome might be a saint, but not for his scholarship. He should be the patron saint of the extremely naive.

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  22. Mary Lanser says:

    The ones who are naive are those who think that Jerome used ONLY the Masoretic texts.

  23. Nathan says:

    This is a fascinating article. I was looking into purchasing an Old Testament (in Hebrew), and I was looking for the “preserved” Masoretic text when I came across this article. I have a couple questions:
    1. Seeing as the Old Testament was written in Paleo-Hebrew (and didn’t have vowel points), the author of the post looks at the fact that the Masoretes added vowel points as a negative.
    But then you say the Septuagint has “the full authority as the inspired Word of God.” The Septuagint was a Greek translation of the Hebrew.
    Surely modified Hebrew is just as accurate if not more to Paleo-Hebrew than a Greek translation of the Paleo-Hebrew? The author says the Masoretes could’ve inserted their beliefs using vowel points, but surely the creator of the Septuagint could’ve done the same using Greek?
    2. Many scholars are amazed at how accurate the “young” Masoretic text is when compared to the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Septuagint. Of course there will be differences (as is noted), but is that enough to discredit the Masoretic text?
    3. Instead of the Masoretic text, what else is in Hebrew (ancient or modern) that is better?

    Thanks for your time, and I apologize if I am overly naive.

    • Hi Nathan, thank you for the good questions.

      (1) You are correct that a Greek translation is not necessarily better than a modified Hebrew transcription. To figure out which is more accurate, I just observe which option was preferred by Jesus, the apostles, and the early Church. In almost every case, Scripture and the early Church favor the Septuagint. Thus, I believe the Septuagint is more accurate.

      It is easy to imagine how it may have happened. You start with accurate Hebrew originals. The originals are translated into (A) accurate modern Hebrew copies, (B) corrupt modern Hebrew copies, and (C) an accurate Greek translation. Over time, the originals disintegrate. Eventually, the accurate modern Hebrew copies are lost as well. All we are left with are B & C . . . the corrupt Hebrew copies, and the accurate Greek copies. Thus, the Septuagint provides us with the clearest representation of the Hebrew originals. I believe this is what happened, because Jesus and the early Church strongly preferred the Septuagint.

      (2) The youth of the Masoretic Text does not automatically discredit it. But it does explain how changes and errors were able to creep in. Since the Masoretic differs significantly from the Septuagint, and since Jesus and the apostles treated the Septuagint as inspired, I believe the Masoretic differences are indeed errors.

      (3) Instead of the Masoretic Text, the original Hebrew copies of the Scriptures would be better. But those do not exist anymore. The only thing we are left with is the Greek Septuagint, which I believe is inspired, and the Hebrew Masoretic, which I believe is corrupt. The past couple generations have also seen the Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS). These are a thousand years more ancient than the Masoretic Text. But they are still modern Hebrew, not paleo-Hebrew. In some places the DSS may be more accurate than the Masoretic. In other places, it is possible that the DSS already include errors which had crept into some Hebrew manuscripts, among Jews who rejected Christ.

      Again, since Jesus and the early Church overwhelmingly accepted the accuracy of the Greek Septuagint, that is where I put my trust.

  24. This has been most helpful as I am doing a study on the word ‘gentile’ at present which, as you probably know, is translated from the Hebrew word ‘goy’ and Greek ‘ethnos’. This Hebrew word is also used when decscribing, not only, Abraham’s descendants, but the nations and the heathen.

    Your having explained the vowel issue would mean that this word ‘goy’ was originally written as ‘gy’ but orally sounded with different vowels so that the hearer would know whether they were referring to Abraham’s seed – the nations or the heathen – say for example, ‘giy’; ‘goy’ or ‘gay’. However, we’re left with just one i.e. ‘goy’. GREAT!!

    ‘Gentile’ is actually a Latin word stuck in the KJV by the translators, they, having copied it straight out of Jerome’s Latin Vulgate translation. The word actually means someone who is not a Roman Citizen and has nothing to do with being non-Jewish at all.

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  26. Stephen says:

    I can see I am way late to this discussion. One thing I would point out that may be of interest to some is Malachi 4:2. It has been translated as the “Sun of righteousness will rise with healing in it’s wings”. The event of the woman with the issue of blood is indicative to me that she was aware of this prophecy that the coming Messiah would have healing in his ‘covering’ (the word translated wings is the Hebrew kanaph and can be a covering like wings, hair, a talit, etc.). Only why would the Messiah be referenced as a “Sun”, that big ball of heat above us ruling the day? However, as you pointed out, the original Hebrew would have had no vowels and the word SH-M-SH can also be rendered Shamash (servant) as well as Shemesh (Sun). If taken as shamash then the verse would read that the “Servant of righteousness will rise with healing in his covering”. (talit, I believe) This would be a clear indication of the Messiah and the prophecy that would then be fulfilled by the action taken with her and many others in the healing through the Messiah’s talit. I too question the validity of the masoretic text for the obvious reason that they did in fact have an axe to grind in denying the Messiah having come. Just my little, late addendum. Thanks

    • RichJ says:

      I am late to this “party’ too. But I’m glad you made a comment and, for what it’s worth I have arrived at the same conclusion.

  27. RichJ says:

    Great article and discussion. I’m going to turn the whole thing into a word document and lead my Sunday school class through it point by point.

  28. Pingback: St. Paul Quoting the Septuagint | The Orthodox Life

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