Does the Hebrew Masoretic text underlying the KJV have any errors?

 

The Masoretic Text

The Hebrew text underlying the KJV is reliable and does not have any demonstrable error.  By God’s grace and providence there are not as many variant readings among the Hebrew Old Testament manuscripts as there are among the Greek New Testament manuscripts.  Most of the variants concern pronunciations which do not affect translation.  Many believe that the KJV is based on the Hebrew Masoretic text of the Second Rabbinic Bible, edited by Jacob Ben Chayyim and printed by Daniel Bomberg in 1525.  However, the KJV appeared to follow the First Rabbinic Bible, edited by Felix Pratensis in 1517-1518, as this first edition includes Joshua 21:36-37 and Nehemiah 7:68 whereas the second edition omits these verses.  Except for these two passages, the KJV appeared to follow the Ben Chayyim text.  Many recent versions of the Bible are based on the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, the third edition of the Masoretic text edited by Rudolph Kittel.  There are eight places where differences between the two texts (the Ben Chayyim and the Rudolph Kittel) affect translation – they are: 1 Kings 20:38, Proverbs 8:16, Isaiah 10:16, Isaiah 27:2, Isaiah 38:14, Ezekiel 30:18, Zephaniah 3:15, and Malachi 1:12.

 

 Verse  Ben Chayyim  Rudolph Kittel
 1 Kings 20:38  “ashes upon his face”  “bandage over his eyes”
 Proverbs 8:16  “all the judges of the earth”  “all who judge rightly”
 Isaiah 10:16  “Lord”  “LORD”
 Isaiah 27:2  “vineyard of red wine”  “pleasant vineyard”
 Isaiah 38:14  “LORD”  “Lord”
 Ezekiel 30:18  “Be darkened”  “Be held back”
 Zephaniah 3:15  “see evil”  “fear evil”
 Malachi 1:12  “table of the LORD”  “table of the Lord”

With only eight significant variants between the Jacob Ben Chayyim and the Rudolph Kittel editions, the Hebrew texts underlying the KJV and modern translations are fairly similar. However, modern textual critics believe that some verses in the Bible are erroneous in all editions of the Masoretic text. These critics believe that a Bible translation must consult the Masoretic text as well as other ancient witnesses such as the Dead Sea Scrolls, Samaritan Pentateuch, Aramaic Targum, Septuagint, and the Latin Vulgate. The prefaces of some of the leading translations have the following to say about the translators’ view of a deficient Masoretic text:

NIV:

“The translators also consulted the more important early versions – the Septuagint; Aquila, Symmachus and Theodotion; the Vulgate; the Syriac Peshitta; the Targums; and for the Psalms the Juxta Hebraica of Jerome. Readings from these versions were occasionally followed where the Masoretic Text seemed doubtful and where accepted principles of textual criticism showed that one or more of these textual witnesses appeared to provide the correct reading.”
ESV:
“In exceptional, difficult cases, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Septuagint, the Samaritan Pentateuch, the Syriac Peshitta, the Latin Vulgate, and other sources were consulted to shed possible light on the text, or if necessary, to support a divergence from the Masoretic text.”
NASB:

“In the present translation the latest edition of Rudolf Kittel’s Biblia Hebraica has been employed together with the most recent light from lexicography, cognate languages, and the Dead Sea Scrolls” (The NASB then lists these witnesses of cognate languages under its Abbreviations page: Aramaic, Septuagint, Latin, Syriac)”

These scholars consult these other sources because they believe that some passages are corrupt in all editions of the Hebrew text.  For more on this, please read: Question: Aren’t some Textus Receptus readings based on little or no Greek manuscript evidence?.  A careful study, however, will reveal that the Masoretic readings underlying the KJV are demonstrably inerrant.

Masoretic Readings Defended

No Copyist Errors

The following are supposed copyist errors in the Masoretic text. Each link will take you to a separate page describing why there is no error in the Masoretic text:

 No Numerical Contradictions

The following are alleged numerical contradictions in the Masoretic text, in addition to those in 1 Samuel 6:19, 2 Samuel 8:4, 2 Samuel 15:7, 2 Samuel 24:13, 1 Kings 4:26, 2 Chronicles 22:2, 2 Chronicles 36:9 noted above. The following alleged contradictions generally appear even in versions other than the KJV:

No Missing Words

The following are places where the Masoretic text supposedly is missing some words. Each link will take you to a separate page describing why there are no missing words in the Masoretic text:

  • Genesis 4:8   “Let us go into the field.
  • Joshua 21:36-37  “And out of the tribe of Reuben, Bezer with her suburbs, and Jahazah with her suburbs, Kedemoth with her suburbs, and Mephaath with her suburbs; four cities.”
  • 1 Samuel 13:1   “One year” or “[missing number]”? (How old was Saul when he began to reign?)
  • Nehemiah 7:68  “Their horses, seven hundred thirty and six: their mules, two hundred forty and five:”
  • Psalm 145:13   “The LORD is faithful in all his words and kind in all his works.

Not Inferior to the Dead Sea Scrolls

The following is a place where critics believe that the Dead Sea Scrolls provide a better reading. The link will take you to a separate page describing why the Masoretic text reading is good:

Not Inferior to the Septuagint

The following is a place where critics believe that Jesus preferred the Septuagint reading over the Masoretic text reading. The link will take you to a separate page describing why Jesus was not preferring the Septuagint reading over the Masoretic text reading:

The following is a place where critics believe that the New Testament author preferred the Septuagint reading over the Masoretic text reading. The link will take you to a separate page describing why the author was not preferring the Septuagint reading over the Masoretic text reading:

 

Conclusion

Having considered the above, there is no reason to question the reliability of the Hebrew text underlying the KJV.

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10 Responses to Does the Hebrew Masoretic text underlying the KJV have any errors?

  1. θ says:

    In contrast to Psalm 82:6 and John 10:34-35 on the use of word “Gods” for Elohim, the inconsistency or error of the KJV appears in mistranslating Psalms 45:6-7 in Heb 1:8-9.
    The English translators of the KJV are either intentionally or mistakenly choose the wrong singular word God twice, instead of plural “Gods”, for “Elohim” in Hebrew, when the verses point to a Jewish king (similar to Ps 82:6 and Jn 10:34) and prophetically to the anointed ones of God (such as Cyrus).

  2. madmanna says:

    The KJV translation is always correct.

  3. θ says:

    Moreover, Heb 1:10 the KJV misleads the readers by putting a non-existent word “Thou Lord” (Su Kurie) between the word “beginning” and “the earth” which does appear in the Hebrew Masoretic rendering of Psalm 102:25. If the KJV boasts its faithful use of the Masoretic rendering of the Hebrew Tanach, why does it now differ on Psalm 102:25?

    Hence, Heb 1:10 should be read:
    Masoretic Heb 1:10
    And, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands:

    Worse, the Greek words of Heb 1:10 differ from both Psalm 102:26 of Greek Septuagint and Psalm 102:25 of Hebrew Masoretic.
    Heb.1:10 of the NT:
    Kai (and) Su (Thou) Kat (in) Archas (beginning) Kurie (Lord) Ten (the) Gen (earth) ethemeliosas (Laid foundation) Kai (And) Erga (Works) Ton (of the) Cheiron (Hands) Sou (of Thou) Eisin (are) Hoi (the) Ouranoi (heavens).

    Pss 102:26 Septuagint:
    Kat Archas Su Kurie Ten Gen ethemeliosas Kai Erga Ton Cheiron Sou Eisin Hoi Ouranoi

    Hence, the order of the word “Su Kurie” in Psalm 102:26 of the Septuagint differs a lot from Heb 1:10 of the NT Bible.

    Different than Septuagint and NT, the original Psalm 102:25 of Hebrew Masoretic does not have the important words “Thou Lord” – Su Kurie – which leads everyone to question:
    (i) Which version is the correct one?
    (ii) Who deleted the phrase “Su Kurie” from Masoretic? or
    (iii) Who makes different order for two words “Su” and “Kurie” in the Greek NT? or
    (iv) Who added a phrase “Su Kurie” in the Septuagint?

  4. θ says:

    The Trinitarians oftentimes claim that the only verses where Jehovah calls Jesus “God” are in Heb 1:8-9, but in fact ironically the original verses in Hebrew Psalm 45:6-7 actually use the word “Elohim” just like in Psalm 82:6 of which John 10:34-35 translated as Gods (theoi in Greek).

    Hence, the verses of Ps 45:6-7 (Heb 1:8-9) and Ps 82:6 (Jn 10:34-35) actually point to the Jewish kings and prophetically to the anointed ones, such as David, Sanhedrin councils, and Cyrus.

    Furthermore, the Trinitarians oftentimes claim that the only verse where Jehovah calls Jesus “Lord” is in Heb 1:10, but ironically the original verses in Hebrew Psalm 102:25 actually does not have the word “Adonai” or “Adon” for “Lord”.
    Hence, why do the Trinitarians and deceitful scribes corrupt the NT by adding a word “Lord” for Heb 1:10?

  5. θ says:

    Qur’an Q.3, v.110 says as the better generation the Moslem world doesn’t use a “generalisation” on Non-Mslems, not even on the people of Scriptures. If one even can’t avoid to curse the bad Jews and evil Christians (Nahi Munkar) due to their sins, at the same time he is still dutifully bound to invite the good ones among them to Islam (Amar Ma’ruf).

    Generalisation judgment is not our Islamic character.
    Jesus chooses an extreme path of generalising the love to all, even to devils and enemies; whereas Prophet Muhammad chooses a more better path: rational, balanced and practical by having a two-edged sword: inviting all to the goodness and fighting against the evilness.

    Resort and prepare always to use the “but” clause, goodwill gestures and open-mindedness toward the Non-Moslems, even in a battle field. The “but” clause is a token that differentiates Qur’an from Gospel.

  6. madmanna says:

    All non sequiter or strawman.

  7. madmanna says:

    Who cares about LXX?

  8. madmanna says:

    KJV is the perfect translation.

  9. θ says:

    “madmanna says: KJV is the perfect translation.”

    The KJV has “perfectly” corrupted the Bible by guiltily adding the word “Lord” which David didn’t write in the Hebrew Psalm 102:25.

  10. θ says:

    Compare two KJV translations which were written by a group of uneducated Christians:
    Ps 102:25
    Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy hands.

    Heb 1:10
    And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands:

    Can anyone read which word gets “perfectly” inserted by the KJV translators for Heb 1:10? The word “Lord”.

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