Bible Code: Yeshua Cut Off and Covenanted—Part 2

Posted by on Mar 24, 2024

A controversial translation in Psalm 22, the psalm of David, reads “they pierced” as opposed to what the Hebrew text says: “like a lion”. Which of these two translations is correct, for they seem to contradict each other: “like a lion” (JPS), alluding to the anguish of the psalmist, or “they pierced” (KJV), alluding to a crucifixion scene which forces a strong messianic interpretation upon the psalm? Although most of the early Jewish commentators have already treated the controversy of “like a lion” vs “they pierced” in Psalm 22 exhaustively, there is some room left for our comments, especially in the light of the Bible code, which we studied in the article “Bible code: Yeshua cut off and covenanted”. Here, we will try to show that the question of “like a lion” or “they pierced” is far from being a trivial issue and hope to provide a more complex answer, as we intend. This work also has a second object: to explain another Bible code (in Psalm 22) closely related to the one we discussed in the foresaid article. In order, however, to understand the hidden things, we need to first understand the visible ones.

Hebrew Scroll

Hebrew Scroll. A translation is not the words of God but of man.

“A translation is not the words of God but the words of man. When you read a translation, you read the opinion of the translator.” Navah

We will now turn to continue what we commenced to explain in the previous article, which we suggest the reader review before proceeding here.

“Like a Lion” or “They Pierced”?

Psalm 22 is understandably a favorite psalm among the theologians who read “they pierced” in the translations of Psalm 22, since it is often linked with the suffering and death of Jesus. We will however read from the Jewish Publication Society (JPS) translation of the verse in question,

For dogs have encompassed me; a company of evil-doers have inclosed me; like a lion, they are at my hands and my feet. (Psa 22:17 JPS)

The Hebrew word in the above verse behind the phrase “like a lion” is כָּאֲרִי ka’ari. This word is read by the early Jewish commentators as the word אֲרִי ari meaning “lion” prefixed by the letter caph, which means “like”, hence “like a lion”. Thus, the figurative language of the verse is interpreted in the following manner: “For dogs have surround me; a pack of evil ones closes in on me, like lions [they maul] my hands and feet”.         

The King James’ version of the Bible however reads the following (notice the quite different translation in KJV):

For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet. (Psa 22:16 KJV)

So, which of these two translations is the true one — “like a lion” (JPS) or “they pierced” (KJV)? The dilemma “like a lion” or “they pierced” expresses not only two contradictory views but also the importance of translations of the Hebrew text into other languages, because such a contradiction like this one tends to make readers take sides. This issue is well known and largely addressed in Judaism, so here we will only offer a basic outline.  

The answer to the question above is in the context of the psalm David wrote. David compares his enemies, who sought to kill him, to hungry dogs, a band of evildoers who have surrounded him, “like a lion” at his hands and feet. In his anguish, David feels devastated and broken, and without hope, saying: “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me, far from delivering me, far from the words of my cry?” This is the main motif in the psalm of David at the plain reading of the text. Eli, Eli (My God, my God), why have You forsaken me? describes how David feels: alone, pursued by his enemies, forsaken by his EL, and so far from deliverance that his words are cried out in anguish. He feels that his cry is so distant from the Eternal that it seems as if his plea cannot reach Him. David’s enemies have surrounded him and have opened their mouths against him, as a raging and roaring lion opens his mouth to devour the prey (Psa 22:12-13). In his agony, David compares his body as being “poured out like water”, and all his bones spread apart (Psa 22:14). “For dogs have surrounded Me, David goes on in his suffering, “a crowd of evil ones have encircled me, like a lion, my hands and feet” (Psa 22:16), as though his bones were crushed in the lion’s mouth, and so did Hezekiah say (in Isa 38:13): “like a lion, so it would break all my bones”. This is the text of Psalm 22 interpreted according to its plain meaning.

In Time of Reckoning Ministry, however, we believe that there is a second layer at a deeper reading of the psalm, namely, its messianic interpretation. While it is not in the scope of this study to discuss this, it will suffice to address briefly the controversy we have already touched upon in the beginning.

The KJV translation—”they pierced”—is not grounded well in the Hebrew text, as we will cite several examples where the counterclaim is in the same verse as the claim. First of all, notice how the KJV translators have rendered the same Hebrew word:  כָּאֲרִי ka’ari, “like a lion” in Isaiah we quoted above:

I reckoned till morning, that, as a lion (כָּאֲרִי ka’ari), so will he break all my bones: from day even to night wilt thou make an end of me. (Isa 38:13 KJV)

Note: The King James translation is considered the most influential English translation that has had a strong effect on subsequent translations. But KJV was not the first translation of the Bible into English. The first English translation was by the theologian William Tyndale (ca. 1494-1536). Based on his translation, the Geneva Bible came into existence, and then the KJV which is based on the Geneva Bible. Therefore, the most popular English translation is in fact a copy of a copy. But the issue we are dealing with here is an intentional change in KJV of what the Hebrew text actually says. We now return to the text.

The question presents itself: Why the inconsistency in the KJV Bible? Why did the KJV translators choose to translate the same word כָּאֲרִי ka’ari, as “they pierced” in Psalm 22 but “like a lion” here in Isaiah? The proponents of the rendering “they pierced” claim more or less the following: the text is to read “they pierced” rather than “like a lion”. In order to read it this way, the Hebrew word ka’ari (כארי) must be translated as if it says “they pierced” which is not what it says. “They pierced”, according to these translators, must have been written to read karu (כארו) instead of ka’ari (כארי). Notice the difference in the spelling. In Hebrew, the difference between these two readings is only one letter: vav (ו) in the Christian translation what the Hebrew text should read, or yud (י) as it appears in the Masoretic text. Here, however, the Christian commentators differ on this issue. Most of them claim (groundlessly) that the Jews have altered the text to remove the crucifixion scene from the psalm. Others holds the view that there is misreading of vav (ו) for yud (י) and vice versa, which they contribute to a scribal error in the Hebrew manuscripts. The reader should notice that vav (ו) is simply a yud (י) with a long tail; an honest mistake a scribe can make when reading hand-written manuscripts. This change in the manuscript, according to them, is clearly not an intentional change but a scribal error. Both camps bring up sources outside of the Masoretic text to support their opinion. But we do not agree with this opinion, because it is not correct to fit this translation into the language of the verse, as we bring proof to the argument.

Another often quoted argument is the use of the Greek translation of the Tanach known as the Septuagint, which reads the phrase in Psalm 22 as “they pierced” instead of “like a lion”. But what is the Septuagint translation? King Ptolemy II Philadelphus (285–247 BCE) gathered 72 Jewish scholars and forced them to translate the Torah from Hebrew into Greek for the purpose of establishing the largest library in the world which was meant to contain all books of wisdom: the Great Library of Alexandria. Under the threat for their lives the rabbis made the translation. But the Library of Alexandria was accidentally burned by Julius Caesar during the civil war in 48 BC destroying everything in it, the Septuagint translation of the Torah included. The “Septuagint” in circulation today contains the Greek translations of all books of Tanach, while the original translation was only of the five books of Mosheh. It is thus believed that this “Septuagint” was a later Christian development. This is the translation the proponents of the new reading of Psalm 22 use to make their argument.

In addition to these arguments, another one is often made, namely, the grammar does not work for “like a lion” since the phrase sounds incomplete: literally, it reads, “like a lion, my hands and my feet”. For this reason alone the JPS translators have inserted additional words to make the text read” “like a lion [they are at] my hands and my feet”. But this argument is not sufficient either, for we should note here in opposition to it that the psalms are written in the form of poetry, and such is the language of the psalmists. Hence, the poetic meaning of this verse is clear, and from it the meaning of the whole psalm is not difficult to perceive. Besides, this argument does not hold much scrutiny, since the KJV translators themselves have made many such insertions into the English translation (marked in KJV in italic), which often change the original meaning of the Hebrew text, as it occurs here in Psalm 22. In response, we will explain that this is not the way to translate the word ka’ari, because those who say that ka’ari (כארי) refers to “they pierced” and not to “like a lion” are giving the Hebrew word a meaning that it does not have. Moreover, the word אֲרִי ari, “lion”, appears in the context of Psalm 22 so often (Psa 22:14, 17, 22; Psalm 22:13, 16, 21 in the Christian Bibles) that this gives us the confidence that “like a lion” and not “they pierced” is the correct translation of the word.

Our response, therefore, to this issue is that if the difference is only in a scribal error in the letter vav or yud, then such a word as (כארו) karu (letter vav as a suffix means “they”), “they pierced”, means nothing in Hebrew: it is gibberish. To make it a word, the letter aleph must be taken out of it to read כרו. But then כרו means a different word. It is the word כָּרָה karah. Karah means “to open”, and it has nothing to do with “to pierce”. This word is used by David in another psalm from which we read: “You have open my ears” (Psa 40:6), this is to say, “You have given me understanding”. Hardly, this can be translated as “You have pierced my ears”, since this would make a little sense to the reader. It appears, therefore, that for these translators Hebrew phonetics and grammar do not seem to matter. Why is the verse not written in Hebrew the way the translators say it should be understood? Is changing the text to its opposite called “interpretation”?

Hence, in keeping with the basic rules of Hebrew grammar, such an intentional mistranslation on the part of the KJV translators should be voided, for the rule of grammar rejects it, as we argued above. Since the proponents of “they pierced” do not cite satisfactory evidence illustrating that this is an acceptable grammar interpretation in Biblical Hebrew, it is therefore not binding for us and cannot be accepted as proof.

On the other hand, the Hebrew word that means to “pierce a flesh”, i.e., to stab, strike (thrust) through it, to wound, is the word דָּקַר dakar, as found in Num 25:8, Jdg 9:54, 1Ch 10:4, Isa 13:15, Jer 51:4, Zec 13:3, and elsewhere. But dakar is a quite different Hebrew word, and it does not appear in Psalm 22. Therefore, the want of trustworthy accounts in the Tanach to support these claims precludes our obligation to entertain further discussion. Yet, we feel compelled to say that if a reader does not know how to be careful with these issues of incorrect translations, but takes them beyond their proper context and grammar, he or she will inevitably become confused and misled.

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