James White and Psalm 78:41 - “Yea, they turned back and LIMITED the Holy One of Israel.”
James White, in his debate about Open Theism with Bob Enyart in Denver, Colorado, said that this is a bad translation of the Hebrew text in the King James Bible.
You can hear his criticism at the 1 hour 21 minute mark of this debate.
Let’s see if he is right or not. Keep in mind that James White is his own authority. He SAYS he believes the Bible IS the infallible words of God. But if you ask him to show you a copy or tell you exactly what it is, he will never do it.
When it comes to the Bible version issue, James White is the equivalent to the Protestant Pope of the New Vatican Versions.
Psalm 78 describes the continual rebellion and sin of the people of Israel against the God who redeemed them and gave them His laws.
One of their sins was “limiting” God. It was not that they in fact limited God, but that they limited Him in their own minds. They brought Him down to their own level in their thinking and viewed Him as being little more than themselves.
Numerous Bible Commentators (John Calvin, John Gill, Matthew Henry, Matthew Poole, John Trapp, Albert Barnes, etc.) have understood the verse in this way, as we shall see in a moment.
ASV, ESV 2011, Catholic St. Joseph NAB 1970, New Jerusalem 1985 - “and PROVOKED the Holy One of Israel”
NASB 1995, Jehovah Witness NWT - “And PAINED the Holy One of Israel.”
NET 2006 - “and OFFENDED the Holy One of Israel.”
NIV 2011 - “ they VEXED the Holy One of Israel.”
Darby, Catholic Douay Version, - “and GRIEVED the Holy One of Israel”
Julia Smith Translation 1855 - “and they BROKE IN UPON the Holy One of Israel.”
Judaica Press Tanach 2004 - “and THEY SOUGHT A SIGN FROM the Holy One of Israel.”
Green’s 2005 - “and SET MARKS TO the Holy One of Israel. “
New International Reader’s Version 2014 - “They MADE the Holy One of Israel SAD AND ANGRY.”
The Orthodox Jewish Bible 2011 - “and IMPOSED LIMITS ON Kadosh Yisroel.”
“and LIMITED the Holy One of Israel”
Agreeing with the King James Bible either with the same wording or the same meaning are The Bishops’ Bible 1568 - “and PRESCRIBED BOUNDES to the most holy God of Israel.”, the Geneva Bible 1587 “LIMITED”, The Bill Bible 1671, Webster’s Bible 1833 - “LIMITED”, The Longman Version 1841, The Lesser Bible 1853 - “and SET LIMITS TO the Holy One of Israel”, The Calvin Version 1856 -“LIMITED”, Young’s 1898 - “LIMITED”, The Ancient Hebrew Bible 1907 - “they LIMITED the Holy One of Israel”, JPS 1917 (Jewish Publication Society) - “and SET BOUNDS TO the Holy One of Israel.”, The Living Bible 1971 -“and LIMITED the Holy One of Israel”, The Word of Yah 1993 “limited”, the NKJV 1984 “they LIMITED the Holy One of Israel”, The Revised Webster Bible 1995, The Evidence Bible 2003, The Revised Geneva Bible 2005, The Bond Slave Version 2009, The Third Millennium Bible 1998, The Jubilee Bible 2010, The Hebraic Transliteration Scripture 2010 - “and LIMITED the set apart One of Yisrael.”, the Biblos Interlinear Bible 2011 - “LIMITED the Holy One of Israel”, the Orthodox Jewish Bible 2011 and The Natural Israelite Bible 2012 - "they LIMITED the Holy One of Israel."
Hebrew Interlinear - “LIMITED” http://studybible.info/IHOT/Psalms%2078:41
Foreign Language Bibles
The Spanish Sagradas Escrituras 1569, Cipriano de Valera 1602, the Spanish Reina-Valera Antigua 1909 and the Reina Valera Gómez 2010 all say - “Y ponían LIMITE al Santo de Israel.” = “they limited the Holy One”, the Italian Diodati 1649 - “E tornarono a tentare Iddio, E LIMITARONO il Santo d’Israele.” = they LIMITED the Holy One., Luther’s German Bible 1545 - “Sie versuchten Gott immer wieder und meisterten den Heiligen in Israel.” = “and LIMITED the Holy One in Israel”, The Portuguese Almeida Corrigida 1681 - " Voltaram atrás, e tentaram a Deus, e LIMITARAM o Santo de Israel." and the Romanian Fidela Bible 2014 - "Dumnezeu şi au LIMITAT pe Sfântul lui Israel."
Bible Commentators who agree with the King James Bible
Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Whole Bible - “And limited the Holy One of Israel - The idea is, that they set a limit to the power of God; they fancied or alleged - (and this is a thing often done practically even by the professed people of God) - that there was a boundary in respect to power which he could not pass, or that there were things to be done which he had not the ability to perform. The original word occurs but three times in the Scriptures. The idea in the word would seem to be that of making a mark for any purpose; and then it means to delineate; to scrawl; or to set a mark for A LIMIT or boundary. Thus it might be applied to God - as if, in estimating his character or his power, THEY SET LIMITS or bounds to it, as one does in marking out a farm or a house-lot in a city or town. There was A LIMIT, in their estimation, to the power of God, beyond which he could not act; or, in other words, his power was defined and bounded, so that beyond a certain point he could not aid them.”
John Calvin - “The Hebrew word תוה , tavah, signifies to mark out or describe. It is intimated, that when the people dared TO LIMIT the operations of God, according to their own pleasure, he was, as it were, shut up within bars of wood or iron, and his infinite power circumscribed within the narrow boundaries to which unbelief would confine it. And assuredly, whenever men do not go beyond their own understandings, it is as if they would measure God by their own small capacity, which is nothing else than to pull him down from his throne; for his Majesty must be brought into subjection to us, if we would have him to be regulated according to our own fancy.”
John Gill - “They limited the Holy One of Israel… or they set bounds, so Kimchi; to his power and goodness, saying, this he could do, and the other he could not; and so men limit the Lord when they fix on a blessing they would have, even that, and not another; and the measure of it, to what degree it should be bestowed on them, as well as set the time when they would have it; whereas the blessing itself, and the degree of it, and the time of giving it, should be all left with the Lord; who knows which and what of it is most convenient for us, and when is the best time to bestow it on us.”
Matthew Henry - “They limited the Holy One of Israel, prescribing to him what proofs he should give of his power and presence with them and what methods he should take in leading them and providing for them. They LIMITED him to their way and their time, as if he did not observe that they quarrelled with him. It is presumption for us TO LIMIT the Holy One of Israel; for, being the Holy One, he will do what is most for his own glory; and, being the Holy One of Israel, he will do what is most for their good; and we both impeach his wisdom and betray our own pride and folly if we go about to prescribe to him. That which occasioned their LIMITING God for the future was their forgetting his former favours (v. 42): They remembered not his hand, how strong it is and how it had been stretched out for them, nor the day when he delivered them from the enemy”
Matthew Poole’s Annotations - “They limited either,1. God’s power, as above, Psalms 78:19-20 Or, 2. God’s will, directing and prescribing to him what to do, and when, and in what manner, and murmuring at him if he did not always grant their particular and various desires.
John Trapp (English Puritan) Complete Commentary - “And LIMITED the Holy One, they prescribed to him, and set him his bounds which he must not pass. Now, God is LIMITED, when as either his power is questioned, as Psalms 78:20, or his will circumscribed, as if he were bound to serve man’s lusts, or means appointed him whereby he must work, and not otherwise.”
The King James Bible is right, as always.
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