A Bible Babel Sampler from the book of Nehemiah
There are three main areas of confusion found among the numerous multi- versionists, none of whom claim to believe that any specific Bible or text is the complete and inspired words of God. #1. Which Hebrew texts? #2. How to translate the text once they decide on it? and #3. Do they follow the Hebrew or something else?
This confusion is readily seen in the different "bible" versions out there today. We will be looking at just a sampling of the type of thing found on almost every page of the Bible. Either God has been faithful to give us His pure words in the book of the LORD or He hasn't and we have no way of knowing for sure what God has said about much of anything. I and many others believe God has preserved His pure words in the King James Bible. The only other logical view is to assume that no bible in any language is the complete and inerrant words of God. This is the view being embraced by more and more Christians today.
#1 Which Hebrew texts?
In Nehemiah 7:68 we read a long list of all the people and things that were brought up out of captivity into the city of Jerusalem. In verse 7:68 we read in the King James Bible: "Their horses, seven hundred thirty and six: their mules, two hundred forty and five."
There is much confusion among the various versions regarding this entire verse. The Holman Standard includes the verse but footnotes: "Some Hebrew manuscripts and the Greek LXX contain this verse, but other Hebrew manuscripts omit it." Likewise the NIV contains the verse but in its footnote tells us that Some Hebrew manuscripts contain this verse but that MOST Hebrew mss. omit it.
Jewish Bibles - The entire verse is found in the Jewish translations of 1936 put out by the Hebrew Publishing Company, New York, the modern Complete Jewish Bible, and the Judaica Press Tanach, but it it omitted in the JPS 1917 version.
Protestant Bibles - The verse is included in Wycliffe 1395, Coverdale 1535, Bishops' Bible 1568, the Geneva Bible 1587, the King James Bible 1611, Young's, Darby, the NKJV, RV, ASV, RSV, NRSV, ESV, NASB, NIV, NEB 1970 and Holman Standard.
However Daniel Wallace's NET version omits the verse telling us: "Most Hebrew MSS omit 7:68, which reads “They had 736 horses, 245 mules,” and thus have one less verse in chap. 7, ending the chapter at 7:72. This verse is included in the LXX and most English versions."
Latin and Catholic versions - The whole verse is omitted in the Latin Vulgate of 425 but it is found in the Latin Clementine. It is included in the Catholic Douay version 1950, the Jerusalem Bible 1968, the St. Joseph New American Bible of 1970, but it is omitted in the newest Catholic version called The New Jerusalem bible of 1985.
#2 How to translate the text? Many "originals only" people tell us we need to go to the original languages in order to be able to know what God has really said, even though none of these people agree among themselves as to which "original language texts" are legitimate, nor on how to translate them once they decide on a particular text. Witness the following example.
Nehemiah 3:5 describes the people who took part in repairing the wall and some who didn't. Here we read: "And next unto them the Tekoites repaired; but their nobles put NOT THEIR NECKS to the work OF THEIR LORD."
Here the word "Lord" is in capital letters clearly indicating that they were not serving their Lord and God in the service of rebuilding the city walls. The Hebrew word is #43 Adon and is used three times in the book of Nehemiah, each time referring to the Lord God. Nehemiah 8:10 "for this day is holy unto OUR LORD", and Nehemiah 10:29 "all the commandments of the LORD OUR LORD."
Agreeing with the King James Bible in Nehemiah 3:5 that the nobles did not put their necks to the work of THEIR LORD (that is, their God) are the following Bible versions: the Latin Vulgate 425, Wycliffe 1395, Coverdale 1535, Bishops' Bible 1568, Webster's 1833, Young's, Darby, Revised Standard Version 1952, NRSV 1989, ESV 2003, Bible in Basic English 1960, Green's MKJV 2000, NKJV, and the Third Millenium Bible.
The Spanish Reina Valera likewise agrees with the literal rendering found in the King James Bible saying: "mas sus grandes no prestaron su cerviz á la obra de su Señor." Notice that the word for Lord is Señor in capital letters, meaning God.
By the way, the literal reading is "put not their NECKS" and is the reading of the RV, ASV, Youngs, Darby, 1917 JPS and many others, and is so acknowledged by the NASB, NKJV footnotes, in spite of the fact that neither one of these versions translated it this way.
NKJV - "but their nobles did not put their SHOULDERS to the work of their Lord." Footnote : literally 'necks'. At least the NKJV still has the reference to their Lord, meaning their God.
However the NIV says: "their nobles would not put their SHOULDERS to the work UNDER THEIR SUPERVISORS." No longer is the service not being done to God (their Lord) but to earthly supervisors of the work. The meaning has been totally changed.
Holman Standard - "their nobles did not LIFT A FINGER to help their SUPERVISORS."
NASB - "their nobles did not SUPPORT the work of their MASTERS."
Nehemiah 9:17 "and IN THEIR REBELLION appointed a captain to return to their bondage."
In Nehemiah 9:17 the Traditional Hebrew Masoretic text reads as does the King James Bible and many others. "and IN THEIR REBELLION appointed a captain to return to their bondage."
So read the Jewish translations of JPS 1917, the 1936 Hebrew Pub. Company, the modern Complete Jewish Bible, the Judaica Press Tanach, the Hebrew Names Version, Wycliffe, Bishops', Geneva bible, Coverdale, Revised Version 1881, American Standard Version 1901, Young's, Darby, NKJV, Green's MKJV 2000, Third Millenium Bible and the NIV and TNIV 2005.
However beginning with the liberal RSV of 1952 many modern versions began to follow a handful of other Hebrew manuscripts and the LXX. These different Hebrew texts omitted the words "IN THEIR REBELLION" and added the words "IN EGYPT" to the text. Among these are the RSV, NRSV, NASB, Holman Standard, NET version and the ESV.
The NASB reads: "So they became stubborn and appointed a leader to return to their slavery IN F105 EGYPT." FOOTNOTES: F105 So Greek and some Heb mss; Heb reads in their rebellion .
Nehemiah 9:17 - NET version footnotes: "The present translation follows a few medieval Hebrew MSS and the LXX in reading “in Egypt”; so also NAB, NASB, NRSV, TEV, NLT) rather than the MT reading “in their rebellion".
This is just one of MANY examples of differing Hebrew Texts with some versions following one reading and other versions another. Which one did God inspire? Here is documented proof of how versions like the NASB and NIV reject the Hebrew readings and often not even in the same places.
#3 Follow Hebrew or something else?
There are literally hundreds of places where versions like the RSV, NRSV, ESV, Holman Standard, NASB and NIV reject the Hebrew Scriptures and follow one of the various LXX readings (there are a multitude of variations among the Greek translations of the Old Testament), the Syriac, the Vulgate or they just make up it up. We will look at just two or three found in the book of Nehemiah by way of example.
Nehemiah 6:6 - "...It is reported among the heathen, and GASHMU saith it, that thou and the Jews think to rebel."
Gashmu is the clear Hebrew reading and that of the RV, ASV, NASB, Youngs, Darby, the Geneva Bible and the Spanish Reina Valera. However the NKJV, NIV, RSV, NRSV, ESV and Holman all change this to GESHEM and then footnote that the literal Hebrew is GASHMU. The alleged Greek LXX is of no help here because it simply omits the whole phrase "and Gashmu saith it" altogether.
Nehemiah 9:6 In this verse the RSV and NRSV both added words from the LXX version by saying: "AND EZRA SAID, Thou, even thou alone art LORD alone." They tell us in a footnote that these extra words come from the Greek but are not found in the Hebrew texts. However now the ESV as well as the NIV, NASB, NKJV go back to the Hebrew reading in this place and do not add the extra words.
Nehemiah 11:8 "And THEIR brethren, mighty men of valor....". So read the Hebrew texts and not even the RV, ASV, RSV, NRSV, ESV, NASB, NKJV, or Holman changed the text here.
However beginning with the NIV, TNIV and now Wallace's NET version they have arbitrarily decided to follow the alleged LXX version and change the "their" to "his". The online NIV reads: "and HIS F27 associates", FOOTNOTES: F27 Most Septuagint manuscripts; Hebrew their.
The NET version of Daniel Wallace reads: "and HIS colleagues" and then he footnotes for us: "The translation reads with the LXX “and HIS brothers” rather than the MT reading “and THEIR brothers”.
Why these men would change the Hebrew texts for "Most Septuagint" versions is a mystery to me. Of course they don't go on to inform us that in this very chapter the LXX OMITS most of verse 15 and all of verse 16. Then it omits all of verses 20-21 and continues to omit almost everything from verses 27-36 right here in this same chapter!!! All these entire verses are just gone from the LXX version. Maybe we'll see these changes in the next Updated Ver$ion to come down the pike.
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