Exodus 34:33-35 with 2 Corinthians 3:12-15
When did Moses put the vail on his face?- Contradiction in the NKJV, NIV, NASB, ESV
Here is a blatant contradiction found in such versions as the NKJV, NASB, NIV, ESV and many other translations when we compare Exodus 34:33 with 2 Corinthians 3:13.
In Exodus we read of Moses coming down from the mount and speaking unto the children of Israel. He then continues going in and out of the tabernacle in the wilderness, where he speaks with God and comes out again to speak unto the people.
The King James Bible, as well as the Geneva Bible 1599, Darby, the 1936 Hebrew Publication Society translation, Webster's translation 1833, the Third Millenium Bible, KJV 21st Century version, and the Modern Greek translation all correctly give the sense of the passage that Moses put the vail upon his face BEFORE he finished speaking with the children of Israel. Then Moses went into the tabernacle he had pitched, and removed the vail while God talked with him.
The clear meaning that the people of Israel were afraid when they saw Moses's face shining, and Moses then covered his face with a vail UNTIL he had finished talking with them is verified in 2 Corinthians 3:12-14. There we read: "Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech: And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished; But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ."
We read in the King James Bible, Exodus 34:33-35: "And TILL Moses had done speaking with them, he put a vail on his face. But WHEN Moses went in before the LORD to speak with him, HE TOOK THE VAIL OFF, UNTIL he came out. And he came out, and spake unto the children of Israel that which he was commanded. And the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses' face shone: and Moses PUT THE VAIL UPON HIS FACE AGAIN, UNTIL he went in to speak with him."
However in such versions as the NKJV, NIV, NASB, NET, RSV, ESV, and Holman versions we read: "And WHEN Moses HAD FINISHED SPEAKING WITH THEM, HE PUT A VEIL ON HIS FACE. But whenever Moses went in before the LORD to speak with Him, he would take the veil off until he came out; and he would come out and speak to the children of Israel whatever he had been commanded. And whenever the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses' face shone, then Moses would put the veil on his face again, until he went in to speak with Him." (NKJV)
The clear and erroneous meaning of the NKJV, NASB, NIV, ESV, Holman Standard and others is that Moses did not put the vail on his face UNTIL AFTER he finished talking with the children of Israel, and this meaning contradicts both the context of Exodus 34:33-35 and 2 Corinthians chapter Three. Other bible versions that miss the correct meaning of the passage in Exodus are Wycliffe, Young's, Bishops', Coverdale, JPS 1917, NET version, and most other modern versions.
John Gill comments on Exodus 34:33: "And till Moses had done speaking with them he put a vail on his face" - Not WHEN he had done speaking, as the Septuagint version, for then there would have been no occasion for it; but when he first began to speak to Aaron and the rulers, and continued to speak to the congregation until he had finished what he had to say; even he did what follows, as soon as he perceived there was a glory on his face, which they could not bear to look at."
Jamieson, Fausset and Brown - "he put a veil on his face--That veil was with the greatest propriety removed when speaking with the Lord, for every one appears unveiled to the eye of Omniscience; but it was replaced on returning to the people--and this was emblematic of the dark and shadowy character of that dispensation (2 Cor. 3:13-14)
Adam Clarke - " And till Moses had done speaking ---The meaning of the verse appears to be this: As often as Moses spoke in public to the people, he put the veil on his face, because they could not bear to look on the brightness of his countenance; but when he entered into the tabernacle to converse with the Lord, he removed this veil, Exodus 34:34.
Matthew Henry - "Concerning the shining of Moses's face observe here, [1.] Moses was not aware of it himself: He wist not that the skin of his face shone, v. 29. [2.] Aaron and the children of Israel saw it, and were afraid, v. 30. It not only dazzled their eyes, but struck such an awe upon them as obliged them to retire. [3.] Moses put a veil upon his face, when he perceived that it shone, v. 33, 35. Thirdly, This veil signified the darkness of that dispensation. The ceremonial institutions had in them much of Christ, much of the grace of the gospel, but a veil was drawn over it, so that the children of Israel could not distinctly and stedfastly see those good things to come which the law had the shadow of... but, thanks be to God, by the gospel life and immortality are brought to light, the veil is taken away from off the Old Testament; yet still it remains upon the hearts of those who shut their eyes against the light. Thus the apostle expounds this passage, 2 Co. 3:13-15. [4.] When Moses went in before the Lord, to speak with him in the tabernacle of meeting, he put off the veil."
John Calvin also agrees with the meaning found in the King James Bible, saying: "And it came to pass when Moses came down another remarkable honor given to the Law is here narrated, viz., that the brightness of the heavenly glory appeared in the face of Moses; for it is said that his face gave forth rays, or was irradiated. When it is said afterwards, that Aaron and the children of Israel were so alarmed at the brightness, that "they were afraid to come nigh him,"... so that the meaning is, when He knew the cause of their alarm, He left off speaking, and covered his face with a vail;...It seems, however, in my opinion, to be perfectly consistent that Moses, after he saw them departing in consternation, ceased from speaking, because they did not listen to him, and, when he discovered the reason, put on the vail."
The reading of Exodus 34:33 found in the King James Bible "And TILL Moses had done speaking with them, he put a vail on his face" is right and the NKJV, NASB, NIV, ESV reading of "And WHEN Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil on his face" is wrong.
A Few More Thoughts for the Bible Critics:
I have often heard from those who promote the conflicting multitude of modern bible versions (all the while believing that NONE OF THEM are the inspired and inerrant words of God) that they don't like that ol' King James Bible because of all the "archaic language" and they say they don't want to have to carry around a Dictionary to find out what the KJB is saying.
May I suggest you take a look at the article I wrote called The Old Fashioned Language of the King James Bible"? Here you will see the illogic and inconsistency of those who argue that we need to carry around a dictionary in order to understand the King James Bible. Within this article you will find a Vocabulary Test taken from such modern versions as the NIV and the NKJV. Try giving this vocabulary test to your children and see how well they (or, even you) will do.
Now, let's look at an example of one of these "archaic" words found right here in Exodus 33:29. "And it came to pass, when MOSES came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in MOSES' hand, when he came down from the mount, that MOSES WIST not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with HIM."
The "archaic" word the "No Bible is inspired" group tells us is hard to understand is that little word "wist". Well, a simple way to find out what this word means if you don't know, is to look it up in an English dictionary. There we find that the word wist is the past tense of the verb "to wit", which means "to know, to become aware of, or to learn". In fact, we still use the words "wittingly" or "unwittingly" meaning to know or not to know.
Not only does the King James Bible employ the words "to wit" and "wist" but so also do Wycliffe, Coverdale, Bishops' Bible, the Geneva Bible, and the Revised Version. However, in this same verse modern versions like the NIV, and Holman Standard omit the Hebrew word MOSES two of the three times it occurs in this verse, AND ADD the word "while he talked with THE LORD", which is not found in any Hebrew text on this planet.
The RSV and ESV omit the word MOSES one of the three times and then add the word GOD by saying: "while he talked with GOD", which again is not found in any text at all.
So the complaint of the anti- King James Bible people is that they find the old word "wist" to be an insurmountable problem, but it apparently is perfectly OK with them to entirely miss the meaning of the passage by creating a direct contradiction with 2 Corinthians 3:13, omit the Hebrew words "Moses" and add the word "God" or "Lord", but that archaic word "wist" has got to go!!! What supreme irony.
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