The Hebrew Masoretic Text and the Greek Septuagint
In Romans 3:1 & 2, God’s word tells us that the Jews were committed to the oracles of God. The Jews were given charge of keeping and copying God’s word. That is why twice in the Old Testament they were instructed not to add to or take away from the Word of God.
• “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.” Deut. 4:2
• “Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar. Proverbs 30:6
Faithful Hebrew scribes took the task of copying God’s word seriously. According to the Hebrew Talmud the rules of the scribe consisted of the following:
• The skins of the parchment had to be prepared in a special way and dedicated to God. In order to have God’s words written on them they had to be clean.
• The ink that was used was to be black and made in accordance to a special recipe used only for writing scripture.
• The words written could not be duplicated by memory, but must be reproduced from an authentic copy which the scribe had before him. The scribe had to say each word aloud when he wrote them.
• Each time the scribe came across the Hebrew word for God, Jehovah (YHWH), he had to wash his whole body before he could write it.
• If a sheet of parchment had one mistake on it the sheet was condemned. If there were three mistakes found on any page the whole manuscript was condemned. Each scroll had to be checked within thirty days of it’s writing or it was considered unholy.
• Every word and letter was counted. If a letter or word was omitted the manuscript was condemned.
As to the accuracy of the Hebrew Old Testament in our day, a study was done on the 581 manuscripts of the Old Testament which involved 280,000,000 letters. The study concluded:
1. Out of 280,000,000 letters there were 900,000 variants. Although seemingly large to the reader it is only one variant in 316 words, which is 1/3 of 1%.
2. Of those 900,000 variants, 750,000 pertained to spelling, whether the letter should be an I or U. This has to do with vowel points for the purpose of pronouncing the word.
3. That leaves 150,000 variants in 280,000,000 letters. That is one variant in 1580 letters with a degree of accuracy of .0006 (6 ten thousandths).
4. Most of the variants were found in just a few manuscripts; in fact, mostly in just one corrupted manuscript.
5. The earliest Masoretic Text is dated 900 AD. In the Book of Isaiah, only one three letter word was different.
6. The Masoretic text is the true text, because the Dead Seas scrolls were written by the Essenes.
The Septuagint exhibits considerable differences among themselves and they disagree with the Masoretic Text. The following are just a few of the errors:
1. There was a 500 year difference just during the time between Adam and Noah.
2. The Greek Septuagint teaches a local flood. It has Methuselah dying 14 years after the flood and he was not even on the ark!
3. The years of the Kings of Israel were incorrect.
4. Lucifer was not the Anointed Cherub as recorded in Ezekiel.
5. The account of the seventy two translators, which came to 6 out of each tribe, was not acceptable according to scripture. The Levites were the only tribe to keep and record the Oracles of God. (1 Chron. 16:4)
6. Jews were not permitted to live in Egypt (Deut. 17:16), but they did and they fell into idolatry. (Jeremiah 44 "Queen of Heaven”)
7. All copies of the Septuagint had originated from the school of Alexandria which was the home of Gnostic and Aryan teachings.
8. The story of the Septuagint, which has several contradictions, only deals with the translation of the first five books of the Old Testament, not the other thirty-four.
9. Both texts cannot be correct. Since the Hebrew text has demonstrated itself to be the word of God, then the Septuagint should be rejected.
Did our Lord Jesus Christ use the Septuagint?
It would seem that Jesus did not use the Septuagint for several reasons:
1. In Matt. 5:17 & 18, Jesus refers to the Law and the Prophets and then continues to say that not one “jot” or “tittle” would pass from the law until all be fulfilled. Jot & tittle refer to the Hebrew, not Greek.
2. In Matt. 23:35, Jesus tells the religious leaders of the day that they were guilty of the blood of the righteous from Abel to Zacharias. Zacharias is found in II Chronicles, which is the end of the Hebrew Old Testament, were as the Septuagint ends with Daniel before it goes into the Apocrypha. It seems as if he was telling them from beginning to end that they were guilty.
3. Jesus never made reference to any of the Aporcapha books which are in the Septuagint.
4. The Hebrew language was still active. When Paul met the Lord on the Damascus road Jesus spoke to him in Hebrew(Acts 26:14). Even when John wrote Revelation, he spoke about the last great battle which is known in the Hebrew tongue (Rev. 16:16) “Armageddon”.
Was the Septuagint used by the New Testament writers?
Out of the 263 quotations of the Old Testament that are found in the New Testament, 85 of them correspond to the Septuagint, while the rest correspond to the Hebrew or vary from both. It would seem that there was no standardized Greek text of the Old Testament.
Note: In the preface of the Septuagint there is a quote saying that there is a 3rd century B.C. Septuagint text that is extant(which means that they have such a copy). No such document exists today as we know it.
Was there a Pre Christian era Septuagint?
Paul Kahle, an Old Testament scholar (1875 1964), did extensive research on the Septuagint. His conclusions were that there was never one original, old Greek version and that the manuscripts of the Septuagint cannot be traced back to one archetype (original pattern).
An interesting thing to consider is that today scholars in both Old Testament and New Testament studies are relying on Alexandrian manuscripts to determine what is the best reading.
Years ago the Hebrew was held as the most reliable manuscript of the Old Testament. In the last 100 years the Greek Septuagint has replaced the Hebrew in scholarly circles.
One of Satan’s greatest tactics is to sow seeds of doubt that will lead to disbelief concerning God’s word. As was in the garden, so is today.
“Yea hath God Said?”
To the Christian, the enemy’s aim is to destroy his faith in the word of God. To the unbeliever, he aims to blind the minds of the unbelieving (2 Corinthians 4:4).
Which one will you choose?