Another King James Bible Believer

Psalm 74:8 KJB - "They have burned up all the SYNAGOGUES of God in the land."

 

NKJV - "They have burned up all the MEETING PLACES of God in the land."

Another common criticism of the King James Bible concerns the word "synagogues" as found in Psalm 74:8. One such Bible critic named Mr. Hymers is unhappy with this rendering. He says the word synagogue should properly be translated as "congregation" since synagogues did not appear until 600 years after Psalm 74 was written.

Mr. Hymers and others like him completely misses the obvious theme and timing of this Psalm. The title of the Psalm says it is a maschil of a man named Asaph. This Asaph was a Levite, the son of Berachiah, of the family of Gershom. He lived during the time of king David.

At David's command Asaph was appointed to be a singer with instruments of music when they were carrying the ark to set it in the tent David had prepared for it at Jerusalem. See 1 Chronicles 15:16-17. About twelve of the Psalms in the Holy Bible are attributed to this Levite named Asaph.

At the time Asaph wrote this portion of Scripture, Solomon's temple had not yet been built. Even if we consider the sanctuary mentioned to be the tabernacle of the congregation, it certainly had not been destroyed nor overrun by the enemies of the Lord's people, as this Psalm describes.

This Psalm is PROPHETIC in nature. It is speaking about events that had not yet taken place. Many portions of scripture are prophetically written as though they had already taken place, but the events described were future at the time they were written. Take for example Psalm 22 or Isaiah 53.

The word used in Psalm 74 for synagogue is # 4150 (moh-gehd) and it has many meanings, including: "seasons, set time, appointed time, congregation, feasts, solemn days, solemn assembly, and synagogues." It comes from the verb # 3259 meaning "to assemble, to meet, to betroth, and, to set a time."

The NIV says: "They have burned up every PLACE where God was worshipped in the land."

The Holman Standard has: "They burned down every PLACE throughout the land where God met with us."

The NASB, NKJV, RSV, ESV all say: "They have burned up all the MEETING PLACES of God in the land."

The simple fact is that neither were there "meeting places" for the general public at the time this Psalm was written. There was only the tent of the congregation where the children of Israel met to offer their sacrifices, and it certainly had not been destroyed.

The word "synagogue" itself means a place of gathering or an assembly. Synagogues are meeting places. There is no difference in meaning between the King James rendering of "synagogues" and the versions that say "meeting places".

Not only does the King James Bible say: "They have burned up the SYNAGOGUES of God in the land" but so also do the following Bible versions: Coverdale 1535, Bishops' Bible 1568, the Geneva Bible 1587 - they haue burnt all the SYNAGOGUES of God in the land.", The Patrick Paraphrase Bible 1822, Webster's translation 1833, The Longman Version 1841, the Revised Version 1881, The Sharpe Bible 1883, the American Standard Version 1901- "They have burned up all the SYNAGOGUES of God in the land.", The Ancient Hebrew Bible 1907 - "they have burned up all the SYNAGAGUES in the land.", The Modern Reader's Bible 1907, The American Translation 1927, the 1936 Jewish translation put out by the Hebrew Publishing Company, New York, the KJV 21st Century Version 1994, the 1998 Third Millennium Bible, The Revised Geneva Bible 2005,  The Bond Slave Version 2009, the Biblos Interlinear Bible 2011 "they have burned up all THE SYNAGOGUES of God". 

There are also at least five other modern day Jewish translations on the internet that translate this verse exactly as it stands in the King James Bible - “they have burned up THE SYNAGOGUES of God in the land.” These are The Torah Transliteration Scripture 2008, The Word of Yah 1993, The Sacred Scriptures Family of Jah 2001 and the Hebraic Transliteration Scripture 2010 by Yerusha Shen and 

Jewish Virtual Library The Tanakh [Full Text] 1998


“they have burned up all THE SYNAGOGUES of God in the land.”


http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/tehillim-psalms-chapter-74


 

Many foreign language Bibles also translate this passage as "the SYNAGOGUES of God" including the Spanish Cipriano de Valera 1602 - "LAS SINAGOGAS de Dios", the Spanish Reina Valera 1909, 1960, 1977 and the 2011 R.V. Contemporánea editions - "Han quemado toads LAS SINAGOGAS de Dios en la tierra." the 2000 Spanish Biblia en Lenguaje Sencillo and the Spanish Reina Valera Gómez of 2010 - "han quemado toads LAS SINAGOGAS de Dios en la tierra.", the French Martin 1744 and the French Ostervald 1996 - “LES SYNAGOGUES de Dieu”, the Portugues João Ferreira de Almeida Atualizada - toads AS SINAGOGAS de Deus, the Modern Greek version - κατεκαυσαν πασας τας συναγωγας του Θεου εν τη γη.", and the 2014 Romanian Fidela Bible - "Au spus in inimile lor: Sa ii nimicim pe toti! Ei au ars tote SINAGOGILE  lui Dumnezeu din tara."

 

John Gill notes in his commentary: "The psalm may refer to times after the Babylonish captivity, and so may design Jewish synagogues."

Adam Clarke notes that the Psalm describes a time when the temple was ruined, Jerusalem burnt, and the prophets scattered or destroyed. Then he says: "But it is not so clear whether the desolations here refer to the days of Nebuchadnezzar, or to the desolation that took place under the Romans about the seventieth year of the Christian era."

"The word moadey," says Dr Adam Clarke, "which we translate synagogues, may be taken in a more general sense, and mean any places where religious assemblies were held; and that such places and assemblies did exist long before the Babylonish captivity is pretty evident from different parts of Scripture." See 2 Kings 4:23; Ezekiel 33:31; Acts 15:21. "For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day."

Matthew Henry remarks: "He complains of the desolations of the synagogues, or schools of the prophets, which, before the captivity, were in use, though much more afterwards. There God’s word was read and expounded, and his name praised and called upon, without altars or sacrifices."

Likewise the Expositor's Bible Commentary takes the view that the Psalm is prophetic and is speaking about the future destruction of the Temple.

John Calvin - “I readily take the Hebrew word מועדים, moadim, in the sense of SYNAGOGUESsynagogues,  because he says ALL the sanctuaries, and speaks expressly of the whole land. It is a frigid explanation which is given by some, that these enemies, upon finding that they could not hurt or do violence to the sanctuary of God in heaven, turned their rage against the material temple OR SYNAGOGUES. The prophet simply complains that they were so intent upon blotting out the name of God, that they left not a single corner on which there was not the mark of the hand of violence. The Hebrew word מועדים, moadim, is commonly taken for the sanctuary; but when we consider its etymology, it is not inappropriately applied to those places where the holy assemblies were wont to be held, not only for reading and expounding the prophets, but also for calling upon the name of God. The wicked, as if the prophet had said, have done all in their power to extinguish and annihilate the worship of God in Judea.”

Adam Clarke - “They have burned up all the synagogues of God in the land - It is supposed that there were no synagogues in the land till after the Babylonish captivity. How then could the Chaldeans burn up any in Judea? The word מועדי (moadey), which we translate synagogues, may be taken in a more general sense, and mean any places where religious assemblies were held: and that such places and assemblies did exist long before the Babylonish captivity, is pretty evident from different parts of Scripture. It appears that Elisha kept such at his house on the sabbaths and new moons. See 2 Kings 4:23. And perhaps to such St. James may refer, Acts 15:23, a species of synagogues, where the law was read of old, in every city of the land. And it appears that such religious meetings were held at the house of the Prophet Ezekiel, Ezekiel 33:31.  And perhaps every prophet‘s house was such. This is the only place in the Old Testament where we have the word synagogue. Indeed, wherever there was a place in which God met with patriarch or prophet, and any memorial of it was preserved, there was a מועד (moed), or place of religious meeting; and all such places the Chaldeans would destroy, pursuant to their design to extinguish the Jewish religion, and blot out all its memorials from the earth. And this was certainly the most likely means to effect their purpose.” 

Matthew Poole - “All the synagogues of God in the land, i.e. all the public places wherein the Jews used to meet together to worship God every sabbath day, as is noted, Acts 13:27, and upon other occasions. That the Jews had such synagogues is manifest, both from these and other places of Scripture; and from the testimony of the Hebrew doctors, and other ancient and learned writers, who affirm it, and particularly of Jerusalem, in which they say there were above four hundred synagogues; and from the nature and necessity of the thing; for seeing it is undeniable that they did worship God publicly, in every sabbath, and other holy times, even then when they neither did nor could go up to Jerusalem, both conscience and prudence must needs direct them to appoint convenient places for that purpose.”

 

Other commentators give differing opinions about the nature of this Psalm, when it was written, and to which events it refers, but a plain reading of the text shows that Asaph is describing events which had not yet taken place during his lifetime.

If the Psalm prophetically speaks of the destruction of the Temple, as it clearly seems to, then these events happened at a time when there were indeed many synagogues of God in the land. During His public ministry, the Lord Jesus went into several synagogues to teach, and so did the apostles after Him.

 

Men like Mr. Hymers who criticize the King James Bible for translating this word as synagogue "understand neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm" - 1 Timothy 1:7.

 

Psalm 77:2 "my sore ran in the night"

Is the King James Bible "seriously flawed" in Psalm 77:2?

There are many Bible critics who laugh at the idea that the King James Bible, or any other Bible version for that matter, is actually the complete, infallible words of God. Such a man is Al Maxey who has written many articles about the alleged errors and inaccuracies of the King James Bible.

His lengthy criticism of the King James Bible can be found at this site http://www.zianet.com/maxey/reflx88.htm

He also includes a very long article on the alleged archaeological errors he finds in the KJB and which I have answered in my article found at my site here:  

http://brandplucked.webs.com/archeologicalerrorskjb.htm 

Mr. Maxey says: "There are many people who feel the King James Version is THE Bible; that it constitutes the one and only STANDARD by which all other versions and translations must be measured. Some have even gone so far as to state that the KJV itself was "inspired by God" and is 100% free of any errors or imperfections. Such appalling arrogance has led some of the more militant supporters of the KJV to condemn all other translations of the Bible as either inferior or an intentional effort by "Satan and his servants" to subvert the true Word of God (which they identify as the KJV)... just type in the phrase "KJV Only" in any Internet search engine and visit some of the web sites that come up. Your jaw will hit the floor after only a few minutes of reading their views. It is quite amazing, and even frightening, that such thinking (or lack thereof) exists among those who profess to be followers of Jesus Christ."

Mr. Maxey continues: "It should never be overlooked by honest students of the Word that the King James Version, like all others before and after it, is the work of mere uninspired, fallible men; an honest attempt to provide the people of their day with God's Word in their own language. It is a noble effort, and one which has captured the hearts of countless people throughout the centuries, but it does have its weaknesses. It is far from being perfect."

Please notice that according to Mr. Maxey, if you actually believe the King James Bible is the inspired words of God you are not being "honest". The "honest" Christians are those like Mr. Maxey who believe that any translation of the Bible, both before and after the KJB "is the work of mere uninspired, fallible men". In other words, it is only the honest Christians who believe there is no infallible, perfect and complete Book that contains all the words of God on this earth today. According to Mr. Maxey, the Christian who believes the King James Bible is the inspired words of God is dishonest and ignorant.

Mr. Maxey is at least being consistent in his views. He prefers to use the NIV, and according to the NIV Preface written by the Committee on Bible Translation, in the last paragraph they state: "Like all translations of the Bible, made as they are by imperfect man, this one undoubtedly falls short of its goals."

Under the heading of Inaccuracies, Mr. Maxey lists Psalm 77:2. He says: "My sore ran in the night, and ceased not." This isn't even close to what the actual text says, which is: "At night I stretched out my untiring hands." Their mistranslation would almost be humorous if it was not so seriously flawed."

He quotes the NIV, and among the versions that also read "My hand was stretched out in the night" are the NKJV, RV, ASV, NASB, NRSV, ESV, ISV, and the Holman Christian Standard.

Is the King James reading of "my sore ran in the night, and ceased not" an error or is it a perfectly acceptable and accurate translation?

It is my contention that the KJB is not incorrect in this verse or in any other. There are very good reasons why it is translated as "my sore ran in the night", and the KJB is by no means the only Bible version to do so.

There occurs in this verse and the next one a very common device known as Hebrew parallelism. That is, a thought or a series of thoughts expressed in parallel fashion which say the same thing but in different words, each one amplifying or expounding the other.

We have three parallel expressions in verses two and three. Let's list these two verses side by side.

Verse 2 "In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord" = Verse 3 "I remembered God and was troubled"

Verse 2 "my SORE RAN in the night and ceased not" = Verse 3 "I complained"

Verse 2 "my soul refused to be comforted" = Verse 3 "and my spirit was overwhelmed."

Commentators and scholars are a funny bunch. What one denies another affirms. Adam Clarke thinks the KJB rendering of 'my sore ran in the night' is "a most unaccountable translation." However John Gill, John Calvin and Matthew Henry have no problem with the KJB reading and admit there are reasons for seeing it this way.

John Gill shows a variety of meanings and comments: "my sore ran in the night; my "stroke," or "wound" ; so Kimchi interprets it; the wound that was made in his soul, and the pain and anguish, grief and trouble, which flowed from it; though the word may be literally rendered "my hand"; and the sense is, either that his hand flowed or was wet with wiping his eyes, or with the tears that flowed from his eyes, which ran down to his fingers' ends; so the Targum, "in the night my eye dropped with tears;" or rather that his hand was stretched out, as waters, that are poured out and run, are spread, that is, in prayer; the stretching out of the hand being a prayer gesture.

John Calvin likewise remarks: "There is, however, some ambiguity in the words. The Hebrew word "hand" is sometimes taken metaphorically for a wound; and, therefore, many interpreters elicit this sense, My wound ran in the night, and ceased not."

Matthew Henry says: "My sore, or wound, ran in the night, and bled inwardly, and it ceased not, no, not in the time appointed for rest and sleep.

Matthew Poole - “My sore ran: the hand in the Hebrew tongue, and Scripture use, is oft put for a blow or stroke given by the hand.”

The word "hand" is often used figuratively to express a great variety of meanings. For example, both the NASB and the NIV have rendered this same Hebrew word not only as hand but also as "banks, authority, axles, border, charge, coast, compulsion, control, custody, debt, direction, discourage, enough, entrust, exhausted, guarantor, help, human agency, idle, labor, leadership, manhood, means, memorial, monument, next, occasion, ordain, place, power, rebelled, responsible, rule, side, slackness, spacious, strength, support, swear, time, undertaking, yield, yourselves", and many other ways too.

In accord with the ambiguity Calvin mentions, it should be noted that the verb translated as "ran" {#5064 nah-gar, used 10 times in the O.T.} always refers to the running or pouring out of a liquid, or something characterized as a liquid.

The expression "I stretched out my hand" is found many times in Scripture, but different verbs are used in these expressions and not the one found here in Psalm 77:2. See for example Psalm 44:20; 88:9; and Proverbs 1:24.

The verb that is correctly translated as "ran" in the King James Bible means "to trickle down, to pour out, to spill, to flow away, or to run."

Examples of its use are seen in Lamentations 3:49 "mine eye TRICKLETH DOWN, and ceaseth not"; 2 Samuel 14:14 "we...are as water SPILT on the ground"; Psalm 75:8 "in the hand of the Lord there is a cup, and the wine is red; it is full of mixture; and he POURETH OUT of the same.", and Micah 4:1 "the waters that are POURED DOWN a steep place."

Apparently the King James and other Bible translators were looking at this passage as figuratively describing David's bitter complaint sapping his strength and oozing out of his body as though it were an open, running sore. He felt overwhelmed and could not be comforted.

There are several Bible versions that agree with the KJB reading. The Great Bible of 1540 (Cranmer) says "my SORE bled in the night".  The Geneva Bible 1599 says: "In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord: MY SORE RANNE and ceased not in the night: my soule refused comfort."

Also reading "my sore ran in the night" are Webster's 1833 translation,The Ancient Hebrew Bible 1907 - "my SORE ran in the night", the KJV 21st Century 1994, and the Third Millennium Bible 1998. Darby's translation also lists this rendering in the footnote. The Revised Geneva Bible 2005 - "my SORE ran in the night", The 2010 English Jubilee Bible says: "My SORE bled in the night and ceased not."  The 2010 Hebraic Transliteration Scripture, by Yerusah Shen - "MY SORE RAN in the night, and ceased not." and the Bond Slave Version 2012.

Even the 2001 modern paraphrase called The Message renders this as: "My life was AN OPEN WOUND that wouldn't heal."

The Judaica Press Complete Tanach 2004 http://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/16298 reads very much like the King James Bible saying: - “my WOUND OOZES at night and does not abate; my soul refuses to be comforted.”

 Jewish Virtual Library The Tanakh [Full Text] 1998


“MY SORE ran in the night, and ceased not”


http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/tehillim-psalms-chapter-77


 

The 2008 Torah Transliteration Version - In the day of my trouble I sought the Adonay : MY SORE RAN IN THE NIGHT, and ceased not: my nefesh refused to be comforted.”

The Word of Yah 1993 - “In the day of my trouble I sought Yahweh: MY SORE RAN in the night, and ceased not: my soul refused to be comforted.”

Lamsa's 1933 translation of the Syriac Peshitta reads: "In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord, MY TORMENT CONTINUED through the night, and ceased not; and there was no comforter for my soul."

The Longman Version 1841 reads: "My TEARS trickled down in the night, and ceased not."

The Spanish Cipriano de Valera 1602 and the Reina Valera of 1909 say: "mi mal corría de noche", thus equaling the sense of the KJB.

The 1998 Spanish version called Las Sagradas Escrituras, as well as the 1569 version, reads: "Al Señor busqué en el día de mi angustia; MI LLAGA DESANGRABA de noche y no cesaba; mi alma no quería consuelo.", which translated would be "my WOUND bled out at night".

The 2004 Reina Valera Gomez bible says: "Al Señor busqué en el día de mi angustia; MI MAL (evil, harm, illness) CORRIA DE NOCHE y no cesaba; mi alma rehusó el consuelo." = "my illness ran during the night"

The French Martin bible 1744 reads just like the King James Bible with: "French Martin 1744 “ma plaie coulait durant la nuit” - "my wound was flowing during the night"

The Portuguese Almeida Corrigida E Fiel and the A Biblia Sagrada em Portugués both read: "No dia da minha angústia busquei ao Senhor; a minha mão se estendeu de noite e não cessava; a minha alma recusava ser consolada." = "my infirmity ran in the night"

The 2009 Romanian Fidela Bible also reads just like the KJB with: "rana mea a curs neincetat in noapte" = "my WOUND flows incessantly at night"

 

There is nothing wrong with the King James rendering of "my sore ran in the night". It accurately reflects what many others have seen as the intended meaning of the Hebrew text in this particular Psalm.

Will Kinney

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