Psalm 22 – pierce or lions?

Athetotheist wrote: Fri Sep 15, 2023 8:50 am

Why did he point to Psalm 22? Because he was stating he was fulfilling the prophecies in Psalm 22.

Another mistranslation. … ike-a-lion

Here’s the passage again:
[Psa 22:16 KJV] 16 For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.

They render this verse as: “They pierced my hands and my feet.” This follows the Septuagint version, used by the early Christians, whose error is repeated by the Vulgate and the Syriac. However, it should be noted that the Septuagint underwent textual revisions by Christian copyists in the early centuries of the Common Era; it is not known if the rendering “pierced” is one of those revisions.

This is asserted, but there’s no evidence presented there was a textual revision of this passage.

In any case, this rendering contains two fallacies. First, assuming that the root of this Hebrew word is krh, “to dig,” then the function of the ‘aleph in the word ka-‘ari is inexplicable since it is not part of the root.

Yes, kārâ can be translated as dig. It can also be translated as: make, open, bore, give a feast, to get by trade. There are many ways the word can be translated. … v/wlc/0-1/

But, it makes no sense to translate it as dig in this passage. What does “they dug my hands and my feet” mean?

There are a number of words that are used in Hebrew for piercing the body: rats’a, “to pierce,” “to bore with an awl” (Exodus 21:6); dakar, “to pierce” (Zechariah 12:10, Isaiah 13:15); nakar, “to pierce,” “to bore,” “to perforate” (2 Kings 18:21).

Yes, there are other words used for pierce in the Hebrew Bible.

[Exo 21:6 KJV] 6 Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore (rāṣaʿ) his ear through with an aul; and he shall serve him for ever.

rāṣaʿ is only used once in the Bible. And it’s used in the context of the ear.

[Zec 12:10 KJV] 10 And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced (dāqar), and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for [his] only [son], and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for [his] firstborn.

dāqar means thrust through, pierce, wounded. … v/wlc/0-1/

As a matter of fact, this passage is a prophecy about Jesus.

[Jhn 19:37 KJV] 37 And again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced.

Isa 13:15 also uses dāqar, but it’s translated as thrust through.

[Isa 13:15 KJV] 15 Every one that is found shall be thrust through (dāqar); and every one that is joined [unto them] shall fall by the sword.

[2Ki 18:21 KJV] 21 Now, behold, thou trustest upon the staff of this bruised reed, [even] upon Egypt, on which if a man lean, it will go into his hand, and pierce (nāqaḇ) it: so [is] Pharaoh king of Egypt unto all that trust on him.

nāqaḇ means curse, expressed, blaspheme, bore, name, pierce, appoint, holes, pierce through, strike through. … v/wlc/0-1/

nāqaḇ should probably not be used for Jesus since it can carry a connotation of blasphemy.

Any of these words would be far better suited for use in this passage than one that is generally used to denote digging the soil.

Not necessarily. But I do agree Psa 22 can be better translated. It is probably better translated as “they bore my hands and my feet”, where bore means to make a hole shaped like a tube.

The correct interpretation of the verse must be based on the elliptical style of this particular psalm. The text should read, in effect: “Like a lion [they are gnawing at] my hands and my feet.”

This makes even less sense. How can one get “gnaw” out of kārâ?

Ellipsis (the omission of words) is an apt rhetorical device for a composition in which suffering and agony is described. A person in agony does not usually express his feelings in complete round sentences. Such a person is capable of exclaiming only the most critical words of his thoughts and feelings. In this case: “Like a lion . . . my hands and my feet!”

This also makes no sense. Why would one completely drop a word in a translation?

Rashi’s interpretation of the verse–“As if crushed by the mouth of a lion are my hands and my feet”–is similar in thought to the one we have offered though differently stated.

Crushed also makes no sense.

As a result of a careful study of this verse, we see that the Christian claim that Psalms 22:17 (16 in some versions) foretells that Jesus’ hands and feet would be pierced has no truth to it.

This is just posturing since the “careful study” has explanations that makes no sense.

Athetotheist wrote: Sat Sep 16, 2023 10:12 pm ‘ari (אֲרִי) is “a lion”.

“Like a lion” doesn’t even make sense grammatically. The article says you have to add either ellipses or gnawing, which neither makes sense. With ellipses, what does “Like a lion . . . my hands and my feet” mean? If you add gnawing (which obviously is not in the text), it would render “Like a lion [they are gnawing at] my hands and my feet.” What does it even mean that a lion is gnawing at my hands and feet?

The Septuagint uses the word oryssō, which is dug, not lion. … onc_500016

There is no evidence the LXX would have somehow had errors during transmission in this passage. Suppose the original LXX was leōn (lion). How can it have a copy error from leōn to oryssō? The accusation of a textual revision doesn’t have any support either.

But let’s suppose it should be a lion, let’s look at translations that favor lion and see how they render it:

Dogs surround me; a band of evildoers has encompassed me; like a lion, my hands and feet are paralysed.

Dogs surround me; a pack of evil people circle me like a lion — oh, my poor hands and feet.

Because dogs have surrounded me; a gang of evildoers has encircled me. Like the lion they are at my hands and my feet.

(22:17) For dogs have encompassed me; the assembly of the wicked have enclosed me: like lions they threaten my hands and my feet.

Yes, wild dogs surround me – a gang of evil men crowd around me; like a lion they pin my hands and feet.

For dogs have surrounded me; Bands of evildoers have encompassed me, Like lions my hands and my feet.

They have pierced my hands and my feet. Like a pack of wild dogs they tear at me, swirling around me with their hatred. They gather around me like lions to pin my hands and feet.

There is no Bible translation that says “Like a lion [they are gnawing at] my hands and my feet.” It is only the article’s author (Gerald Sigal) that is proposing this.

The evidence of the Dead Sea Scrolls (Scroll Nahal Hever) also supports pierced rather than lion.

16 For dogs have surrounded me. A company of evildoers have enclosed me. They have pierced[2] my hands and feet.
[2] The MT says “like a lion” rather than “they have pierced.” There is a one letter difference between the two. This scroll reads ”they have pierced.”

One of the Dead Sea Scrolls fragments contains Psalm 22:16. This fragment, published in 1997, was discovered in a cache of Scrolls at Naḥal Ḥever in Israel during the early 1950s. Significantly, the 5/6 Ḥev–Sev4Ps Fragment 11 of Psalm 22 contains the crucial word in the form of a third-person plural verb, written וראכ (“pierced/dug”).36 While it can often be difficult to distinguish between a waw (ו) and yod (י) in the Dead Sea texts, the editors of the most authoritative edition of the scrolls, Discoveries in the Judaean Desert, confirm this reading in its transliteration and in two notes: “Although the photograph . . . is very faded, most of the letters are clearly identifiable under magnification,” and regarding וראכ the editors conclude, “with waw (ו) and yod (י) clearly distinguishable in this hand . . . this important variant [וראכ] reading is assured.”37 … a-scrolls/

Scraps from a scroll containing some of the Psalms were discovered at Nachal Hever, and one scrap contained the line from Psalm 22:16 with the word in question well in view. Though the writing on the scrap was faint, under magnification it was easy to see and decipher. The word clearly ended in a vav not a yod, and was therefore a 3rd person plural verb: “they dug” or “they pierced.” … ike-a-lion

With the grammatical support, Septuagint support, and the DSS support, it is more likely it is the Masoretic that is incorrect. But even if you accept the Masoretic, there is no Bible translation that says lions were gnawing at the hands and feet.

Athetotheist wrote: Sun Sep 17, 2023 3:08 pm You’re talking like you’ve never read that entire psalm. The lion image fits the context perfectly.

I’m pointing out in the context of the sentence, it makes no grammatical sense. Yes, lion is also mentioned in other verses in the chapter, but in those verses, they make grammatical sense. So, why should lion be used in Psa 22:16 where lion is used grammatically incorrect?

[Psa 22:13, 21 KJV] 13 They gaped upon me [with] their mouths, [as] a ravening and a roaring lion. … 21 Save me from the lion’s mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns.

The Septuagint is an inferior Greek translation.

Actually, that’s debateable. In particular, the dating of the oldest manuscripts of the Septuagint go back much farther than the Masoretic. So, it can be argued the Septuagint is more faithful to the original. This is also evidenced that it aligns with the DSS. So, it is more likely the Masoretic has been changed, either through a copy error or an intentional change.

It’s easily plausible, for example, that a Septuagint translator lacking skill could mistake ka-‘ari for “karah”.

Asserting a plausible scenario without any evidence is merely speculation.

There doesn’t have to be. The CEB, LEB, LOT, NET and TPT translations you list work perfectly well.

If it is translated as lion, I would not disagree. In particular, many of these translations can still apply to Jesus.

The problem, I think, is that you’re hung up on the word “gnaw”, which is an extrapolation, instead of focusing on the word ‘ari [“lion”], which is in the text.

Right, that is fundamentally what I have an issue with if it is actually a lion instead of pierced.

Words present in the scroll but with spelling differences that do not affect the meaning are in green like this: green. This is common in Hebrew.

The word “pierced” is in green. So the word “pierced” does not match the word in the traditional text. And according to the side note, the difference in the word doesn’t affect the meaning.

The traditional text is referring to the Masoretic. The green text is pointing out the DSS has a word variation with the Masoretic as what we are currently debating about. The Masoretic has like a lion. But the DSS has pierced.

As for affecting the meaning, it depends on how it’s translated from the Masoretic. But the NET translation would not change the meaning:
“like a lion they pin my hands and feet.”

I don’t see this text in this source. However…..

I copied the source wrong, it should be:

Athetotheist wrote: Tue Sep 19, 2023 9:06 pm The speaker is referring to being assailed by enemies acting like wild beasts. Lions are wild beasts.

Yes, lions are attacking the speaker. But to add the lions are “gnawing” at the hands and feet is an unsubstantiated claim. How many lions attack their prey by gnawing at their hands and feet?

The Masoretic work enjoyed an absolute monopoly for 600 years, and experts have been astonished at the fidelity of the earliest printed version (late 15th century) to the earliest surviving codices (late 9th century). [/i]

As the source points out, the earliest Masoretic text is late 9th century. The earliest LXX fragment is 2nd century BC. The earliest LXX manuscripts are 4th and 5th century AD. Thus the LXX precedes the Masoretic by centuries.

The oldest manuscripts of the Septuagint include 2nd-century-BCE fragments of Leviticus and Deuteronomy (Rahlfs nos. 801, 819, and 957) and 1st-century-BCE fragments of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, and the Twelve Minor Prophets (Alfred Rahlfs nos. 802, 803, 805, 848, 942, and 943). Relatively-complete manuscripts of the Septuagint postdate the Hexaplar recension, and include the fourth-century-CE Codex Vaticanus and the fifth-century Codex Alexandrinus. These are the oldest-surviving nearly-complete manuscripts of the Old Testament in any language; the oldest extant complete Hebrew texts date to about 600 years later, from the first half of the 10th century.[33]

While the Septuagint appears to have been widely accepted by Jews of the Second Temple period, it has been largely rejected as scriptural by mainstream Rabbinic Judaism since late antiquity for several reasons.

Yes, the LXX is rejected by mainstream Jews, but it was not so prior to the advent of Christianity. So, their rejection was a reaction to Christianity.

The Masoretic is not inerrant either, so it as well has errors in it. Even the LXX has errors in it. But, what we have to look at is the preponderance of the evidence. Given the grammatical support of Psa 22:16 supporting pierce instead of “like a lion” and the textual support of the DSS, it is more reasonable the text should be pierced. And even if it was “like a lion”, the claim that “gnaws” should be added is an addition to the text that does not exist and is not translated that way in any English Bible.

Athetotheist wrote: Wed Sep 20, 2023 8:57 pm While it was written sometime between the seventh and tenth centuries AD, it was based on the meticulously preserved oral tradition and the best available manuscripts of the original Hebrew text.

To save the Hebrew Bible from dissolving into competing interpretations, a group known as the Masoretes (traditionalists) produced a new copy of the original Hebrew,

While the Masoretic Text was completed rather late (the oldest copies we have of the Masoretic Text are from ninth century), it was the culmination of several centuries of work.
(bolding mine)

There is no doubt the Masoretic was meticulously preserved from the original Hebrew over several centuries of work. It still does not show Psa 22 has been inerrantly preserved from the original. This is why I brought up the evidence of the DSS, which is earlier than the Masoretic. What makes more sense? An early Hebrew text being correct or a late Hebrew text being correct?

Why would it be copied correctly and just a few lines later be copied incorrectly, especially given the care which was taken?

Who’s claiming the other passages were not copied correctly? The only passage we’re debating is Psa 22:16.

Remember the only difference we’re talking about here is a vav and an yod. The difference is so small it can easily be miscopied.

Again, “gnaw” is a logical extrapolation.

Can you cite any Bible that translates it this way?

Yes, the LXX is rejected by mainstream Jews, but it was not so prior to the advent of Christianity. So, their rejection was a reaction to Christianity.

This is a non-sequitur.

No, though there are other reasons for the eventual Jewish rejection of the Septuagint, their reaction to the rise of Christianity is one of them. As Wikipedia points out:

Finally, the rabbis also wanted to distinguish their tradition from the emerging tradition of Christianity, which relied heavily on the Septuagint.

The Septuagint became synonymous with the Greek Old Testament, a Christian canon incorporating the books of the Hebrew canon with additional texts.

There was a need for translations to be closer to the original Hebrew, for one thing, for the sake of Jewish-Christian polemics, as depicted by the work by Justin the Martyr, Dialogue with Tryphon (Fernández Marcos 2000:109). This would also contribute towards the gradual rejection of the LXX by Jews before the 2nd century CE, the fixing of the Hebrew canon and the hypothetical Synod of Yamni/Javneh. … 0000400034

Now, I don’t want to minimize the importance of the Hebrew Bible. It is what I use to translate the Bible, not from the Septuagint. All things being equal, the Hebrew should take priority over any translation, including Greek. But, all things are not equal. The Masoretic text is late and the LXX is early, so it takes deeper digging to assess the truth.