Contrast the Authorized King James Bible with the NKJV. It should be obvious that if you change the words you likewise change the meaning of something. The NKJV is not just an innocent update of the "archaic" language of the AV 1611. It has changed the meaning of hundreds of verses.
Psalms 139:3 "Thou COMPASSEST my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways."
To compass is to surround and enclose something. God is all around us. "Thou compassest my path" is the reading of the Bishops' Bible 1568, (Coverdale, Great Bible, Matthew's Bible - "thou art about my path) Geneva Bible 1587, the Spanish Reina Valera 1909 (has rodeado - you have surrounded), Webster's 1833 translation, KJV 21 and the Third Millennium Bible.
The NKJV says: "You COMPREHEND my path and my lying down", while the NASB says: "You SCRUTINIZE my path", and the NIV has "You DISCERN my path" and the ESV has "you SEARCH OUT my path".
Psalms 139:11 "If I say, Surely the darkness shall COVER me; even the night shall be light about me."
The NKJV reads differently and has a very misleading footnote. It says: "If I say, "Surely the darkness shall FALL ON me"; then in a footnote states: "Vulgate and Symmachus read - cover", as though the Hebrew cannot be rendered as the King James Version has it, but imply that the KJB tranlators got it from the Vulgate instead of the Hebrew.
Yet versions that likewise read "the darkness shall COVER me" are the RSV, NRSV, ESV, Darby, Douay, Spanish, 1936 Hebrew translation, Italian Diodati, the Bible in Basic English and others. Even the NASB and NIV along with the Geneva Bible say "Surely the darkness shall hide me."
Psalms 139:13 "For thou hast POSSESSED MY REINS: thou hast COVERED me in my mother's womb."
The word "reins" is not archaic and means the seat of the feelings and affections. It is found in the RV, ASV, Geneva, Young's, 1917, 1936 Jewish translations, Third Millennium Bible 1998, the KJV 21st Century 1994 and the Complete Tanach 2004 versions.
See a full article on this here -
“Reins”, “Heart”, “Mind” "Brains" or “Emotions”?
“the righteous God trieth the hearts and REINS.” - Psalm 7:9
The word "POSSESS" means to buy, to purchase, to get and to possess. It never means "to FORM" as the NKJV, NIV and ESV have it. The word is used in speaking of wisdom in Proverbs 8:22 "The LORD POSSESSED me in the beginning of his way"; Jeremiah 32:15 "vineyards shall be POSSESSED again in this land"; and in Genesis 14:19, 22 "the most high God, POSSESSOR of heaven and earth."
"Thou hast POSSESSED MY REINS" is the reading of Wycliffe 1395, Bishops' bible 1568, the Geneva bible 1587, the Revised Version 1881, ASV 1901, 1936 Hebrew Publishing Company, Douay 1950, Darby 1890 and Young's, yet the NKJV goes along with the NASB, NIV, ESV and says: "You have FORMED my inward parts."
Psalms 139:13 "Thou hast COVERED me in my mother's womb". To cover is # 5526 and means literally to cover, sometimes implying to protect or defend. Psalm 91:4 "He shall COVER thee with his feathers.", Psalm 140:7 "thou hast COVERED my head in the day of battle"; Exodus 40:3 "and COVER the ark with the vail"; Job 40:22 "the shady trees COVER him", 1 Kings 8:7 "the cherubims COVERED the ark", 1 Samuel 24:3 - "Saul went in TO COVER his feet", Ezekiel 28:14 - "Thou art the anointed cherub THAT COVERETH".
"Thou hast COVERED me in my mother's womb" is the reading of Coverdale 1535, the Great Bible 1540, Matthew's Bible 1549, the Bishops' Bible 1568, the Geneva Bible 1587, The Longman Version 1841, the Lesser Bible 1853, The Boothroyd Bible 1853, Julia Smith Translation 1855, The Smith Bible 1876, The Revised English Bible 1877, The Sharpe Bible 1883, the Revised Version 1885, ASV 1901, Darby 1890, Young's 1898, The Ancient Hebrew Bible 1907, the 1936 Hebrew Publishing Company Bible, NKJV 1982, The Word of Yah 1993, 21st Century KJV 1994, The Koster Scriptures 1998 - "you HAVE COVERED ME in my mother's womb", God's First Truth 1999, Updated Bible Version 2004, The Judaica Press Complete Tanach 2004, the Bond Slave Version 2009, the Jubilee Bible 2010, The Holy Scriptures VW Edition 2010, The Biblos Interlinear Bible 2011 - "you have COVERED me in the womb of my mother", The Natural Israelite Bible 2012,
and This Interlinear Hebrew Old Testament - http://studybible.info/IHOT/Psalms%20139:13
The Online Interlinear 2010 (André de Mol) reads: "you ARE OVERSHADOWING ME in the womb of the mother of me"
The Jewish Family Bible 1864 reads: "For thou hast POSSESSED my reins; thou hast SHELTERED ME in my mother's womb."
But the NIV joins the RSV, ESV, Holman Standard, and says: "You KNIT ME TOGETHER", and the NASB (NET) has "you WEAVED ME in my mother's womb."
The Catholic Connection
The earlier Catholic Douay-Rheims 1610 and Douay 1950 both read: "thou hast PROTECTED me from my mother's womb." But the St. Joseph New American bible 1970 changed this to: "you KNIT ME in my mother's womb.", and the New Jerusalem bible 1985 has the same with: "KNIT ME TOGETHER in my mother's womb."
Other Versions Lamsa's 1933 translation of the Syriac is a little weird, with: "thou hast ACCEPTED ME from my mother's womb."
The so called Greek Septuagint has: "you HAVE HELPED ME from my mother's womb."
The Work of God's Children Bible 2011 - "you have PROTECTED me from my mother's womb."
Foreign Language Bibles
Foreign language Bibles that read like the KJB are the Spanish Sagradas Escrituras 1569 - “me CUBRISTE en el vientre de mi madre.” = “You COVERED me in my mother’s belly”, Spanish Reina Valera 1995, Reina Valera Gómez 2010, the French Martin Bible 1744 - “tu m'as ENVELOPPE au ventre de ma mère.”, the Portuguese Almeida Corrigida e Fiel Bible - “COBRISTE-me no ventre de minha mäe.
Bible commentators, as well as bible buffet versions, are all over the board on what this verse means. But among those that agree with the KJB reading of “thou hast COVERED me” are
John Gill - “thou hast covered me in my mother's womb; with the secundine, or afterbirth, in which he carefully wrapped him, a proof of his knowledge of him, and care for him in the womb; or with skin and flesh he covered his bones with as they grew there; or the sense is, he protected and defended him in his embryo state, and when ripe for birth took him out from thence, and held him up ever since.”
Jamieson, Faussett and Brown’s Critical Commentary on the Whole Bible specifically says that “woven me” is wrong and “covered me” is the correct reading. -
“Thou hast covered me in my mother's womb - a place dark as night. As thou hast protected me the dark womb at the first, so there is no night-darkness (Psalms 139:11-12) that can so overwhelm me as to be beyond the reach of thy light and life-giving protection. THE KINDRED PSALM, Psalms 140:7, which uses the Hebrew, Sakak, in the same sense, ESTABLISHES THE ENGLISH VERSION. “THOU HAS COVERED ME”, NOT as Mauer, from Job 10:11, “THOU HAST WOVEN ME”- i:e., artfully elaborated the several parts of my body, as a weaver does a web.”
Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers - “Covered me.—Most critics render here didst weave me. BUT THE USUAL SENSE OF THE WORD COVER OR PROTECT, SUITS EQUALLY WELL. The prime thought is that every birth is a divine creation.”
Psalms 139:16 The biggest change in meaning in this Psalm is found in verse 16. In the KJB we read: "Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book ALL MY MEMBERS were written, WHICH IN CONTINUANCE were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them."
This is the same reading or sense as found in the Great Bible - "Thyne eyes dyd se my substaunce, yet being vnparfect: & in thy boke were all my membres written. Which daye by daye were fashyoned, when as yet there was none of them.", the Geneva Bible 1587, the Revised Version 1885, Webster's Translation 1833, Darby 1890, Third Millennium Bible 1998, KJV 21st Century 1994, New English Bible 1970, and the Spanish Reina Valera, and the Italian Diodati. It is speaking about the formation or our bodies.
The Revised Version reads: "Thine eyes did see mine unperfect substance, and in thy book were all my members written, which day by day were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them."
Darby: "Thine eyes did see my unformed substance, and in thy book all my members were written: during many days they were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them."
Geneva Bible: "Thine eyes did see me when I was without form; for in thy book were all things written, which in continuance were fashioned, when there was none of them before."
New English Bible 1970: "Thou didst see my limbs unformed in the womb, and in thy book they are all recorded; day by day they were fashioned, not one of them was late in growing."
BUT the ESV says: "Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, THE DAYS THAT WERE FORMED FOR ME, when as yet there was none of them."
The Holman Standard 2003 - "Your eyes saw me when I was formless; ALL MY DAYS were written in Your book and planned before a single one of them began."
Spanish Reina Valera 1960 "Mi embrión vieron tus ojos, y en tu libro estaban escritas todas aquellas cosas que fueron luego formadas, sin faltar una de ellas."
Matthew Henry notes in his commentary:
My substance, when hid in the womb, in the forming, an unshapen embryo, was not hidden from thee; thy eyes did see my substance. As the eye of God saw us then, so his hand wrought us; we were his work. In thy book all my members were written. Eternal wisdom formed the plan, and by that almighty power raised the noble structure.
We are fearfully and wonderfully made; we may justly be astonished at the admirable contrivance of these living temples, the composition of every part, and the harmony of all together. All our members in continuance were fashioned, according as they were written in the book of God's wise counsel, when as yet there was none of them. If any of our members had been wanting in God's book, they would have been wanting in our bodies, but, through his goodness, we have all our limbs and sense, the want of any of which might have made us burdens to ourselves. See what reason we have then to praise God for our creation, and to conclude that he who saw our substance when it was unfashioned sees it now that it is fashioned.
Charles H. Spurgeon
Psalms 139:16. "Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect. While as yet the vessel was upon the wheel the Potter saw it all. The Lord knows not only our shape, but our substance: this is substantial knowledge indeed. The Lord's observation of us is intent and intentional, --"Thine eyes did see." Moreover, the divine mind discerns all things as clearly and certainly as men perceive by actual eye sight. His is not hearsay acquaintance, but the knowledge which comes of sight. And in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. An architect draws his plans, and makes out his specifications; even so did the great Maker of our frame write down all our members in the book of his purposes. That we have eyes, and ears, and hands, and feet, is all due to the wise and gracious purpose of heaven: it was so ordered in the secret decree by which all things are as they are. God's purposes concern our limbs and faculties. Their form, and shape, and everything about them were appointed of God long before they had any existence. God saw us when we could not be seen, and he wrote about us when there was nothing of us to write about. When as yet there were none of our members in existence, all those members were before the eye of God in the sketch book of his foreknowledge and predestination.
This verse is an exceedingly difficult one to translate, but we do not think that any of the proposed amendments are better than the rendering afforded us by the Authorized Version."
Psalms 139:16. Thine eyes beheld my shapelessness, etc. The embryo, when first conceived in the womb, has no form; and David speaks of God’s having known him when he was yet a shapeless mass, is the name given to the foetus from the time of conception to birth inclusive. The argument is from the greater’ to the less. If he was known to God before he had grown to certain definite shape, much less could he now elude his observation. He adds, that all things were written in his book; that is, the whole method of his formation was well known to God.
Whatever is an object of God’s knowledge he is said to have registered in writing, for he needs no helps to memory. Interpreters are not agreed as to the second clause. Some read ,yamim, in the nominative case, when days were made; the sense being, according to them — All my bones were written in thy book, O God! from the beginning of the world, when days were first formed by thee, and when as yet none of them actually existed. The other is the more natural meaning, That the different parts of the human body are formed in a succession of time; for in the first germ there is no arrangement of parts, or proportion of members, but it is developed, and takes its peculiar form progressively.
However the NKJV joins the NASB, NIV, Holman and ESV and changes the meaning as found in the KJB. It says: "Your eyes saw my substance being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, THE DAYS FASHIONED for me, When as yet there were none of them."
The NIV has a similar thought saying: "All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."
Instead of the members of our body being formed, the NKJV, NIV, NASB, Holman, ESV and RSV speak about the DAYS being written and ordained.
It is funny to hear many modern version proponents complain about what they themselves call "the liberal RSV and NRSV"; yet they follow the same texts and read the same way as the NASB, ESV, Holman and NIV, and now in great part the NKJV. This is truly a case of the blind leading the blind. Just pick up that "liberal RSV" and compare it to the NASB, ESV and NIV, and marvel at the irony.
Psalms 139:21 "Do not I hate them. O LORD, that hate thee? And AM I NOT GRIEVED with those that rise up against thee?"
"Am I not GRIEVED" is the reading of the Great Bible 1540, Bishops' Bible 1568, the Revised Version 1881, ASV 1901, Young's, Webster's, KJV 21, TMB and others.
The word is used in Psalm 95:10 "Forty years long was I grieved with this generation", and Psalm 119:158 "I beheld the transgressors and was grieved."
However again the NKJV joins the RSV, NASB, NIV, ESV by saying: "Do not I LOATHE those who rise up against You?"
Psalms 139:23 "Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my THOUGHTS".
"Thoughts" is the reading of the Coverdale 1535, the Great Bible 1540, Matthew's Bible 1549, Bishops' Bible 1568, the Geneva Bible, the RV 1881, ASV, Young's and the ESV among others, and merely means what he is thinking.
But again, the NKJV joins the NASB, NIV and says: "know my ANXIETIES", while the NASB, NIV have "know my ANXIOUS THOUGHTS".
I can have a lot of thoughts in my head and this Pslam is full of many wonderful thoughts that occupied David's mind at the time. But "thoughts" in general are not the same as "anxious" thoughts. The meaning is changed. The modern versions have to change enough words in their versions in order to get a copyright and make their money. Very often they make changes in the wording merely for the sake of these copyright changes - not because they are more accurate.
Psalms 141:5-7 Bible Babel in Action
The purpose of this brief study of Psalm 141 is to reveal two fundamental truths that are often overlooked by many Christians. Number one - not all bible versions say the same things but with different words. Number two - if we learn the original languages there still would be great disagreement about what God has said.
5. "Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness: and let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil, WHICH SHALL NOT BREAK MY HEAD, for yet my prayer also shall be IN THEIR CALAMITIES.
6. WHEN their judges are OVERTHROWN IN STONY PLACES, they shall hear my words; for they are sweet.
7. Our bones are scattered at the grave's mouth, as when ONE CUTTETH AND CLEAVETH WOOD UPON THE EARTH.
Charles Spurgeon comments: "And let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head." Oil breaks no heads, and rebuke does no man any harm; rather, as oil refreshes and perfumes, so does reproof when fitly taken sweeten and renew the heart. Many a man has had his head broken at the feasts of the wicked, but none at the table of a true hearted reprover.
In verse 5 the Psalmist likens the reproof of the righteous as oil "which shall not BREAK MY HEAD", and his prayer will be their calamities as well. So read the King James Bible, Webster's 1833 translation, the Third Millennium Bible, the KJV 21st Century version, the Geneva Bible, Diodati, and the Spanish Reina Valera - "no me herirá la cabeza".
However the NKJV aligns itself again with the NASB and NIV in giving a very different meaning. The NKJV says: "Let the righteous strike me; It shall be a kindness. And let him reprove me; It shall be an excellent oil. LET NOT MY HEAD REFUSE IT. For still my prayer is AGAINST THE DEEDS OF THE WICKED."
Besides altering "it shall not break my head" to "let not my head refuse it", the NKJV completely changes the meaning of the second part of the verse from praying for the righteous in their calamities to "praying against the deeds of the wicked".
Here are a few other versions to show the confusion in these verses.
NKJV, NASB, NIV - "Let not my head REFUSE IT". (accept it)
RSV, NRSV, NEB - "but let the oil of THE WICKED NEVER ANOINT my head". (don't accept it)
Verse 7. "Our bones are scattered at the grave's mouth, as when ONE CUTTETH AND CLEAVETH WOOD UPON THE EARTH."
So read the KJB, Darby, Diodati, Today's English Version, Third Millennium Bible, Webster's, Green's Modern KJV, and the KJV 21.
New English Bible 1970 - "Their bones shall be scattered at the mouth of Sheol, LIKE SPLINTERS OF WOOD OR STONE ON THE GROUND."
Geneva Bible - "our bones lie scattered at the grave's mouth, as he that HEWED WOOD or diggeth in the earth."
NKJV, NIV, NASB - "our bones are scattered at the mouth of the grave AS ONE PLOWS AND BREAKS UP THE EARTH."
RSV, NRSV - "AS A ROCK WHICH ONE CLEAVES AND SCATTERS ON THE LAND, so shall THEIR bones be strewn at the mouth of Sheol."
Young's "literal" translation - "As one tilling and ripping up in the land, Have our bones been scattered AT THE COMMAND OF SAUL." !!!
Psalms 145:5 KJB - "I WILL SPEAK of the glorious honour of thy majesty, and of thy wondrous works."
NIV - Psalms 145:5 "THEY WILL SPEAK (NIV 1984 edition) THEY SPEAK (NIV 2011 edition) of the glorious splendor of your majesty and I will meditate on your wonderful works." Footnote: "Dead Sea Scrolls and Syriac; Masoretic text "I will meditate".
First of all, the NIV is wrong in its footnote. Lamsa's translation of the Syriac Peshitta 1933 does not read like the NIV tells us, but rather reads exactly like the King James Bible. It says: "I WILL SPEAK of the glorious honor of thy majesty, and of thy wondrous works." I have a hard copy of Lamsa's translation right here in front of me. So, the NIV footnote is wrong, and the rest of the footnote about the Dead Sea Scrolls is very misleading, as we shall shortly see.
The Hebrew word used here for "I will SPEAK" is # 7878 see'agh, and it has several meanings including "to speak, to declare, to tell, to meditate, to muse, to complain and to pray".
Agreeing with the King James reading of "I WILL SPEAK" or "I will TALK" its equivalent or even "I will meditate on" are Coverdale 1535, Bishops' Bible - "I wyll set foorth in wordes the glorious maiestie", the Geneva Bible 1587, Darby - "I WILL SPEAK of the glorious splendour of thy majesty", Youngs, Rotherham's Emphasized bible 1902, the JPS 1917 (Jewish Publication Society), the Revised Version 1881, the ASV 1901, the Complete Jewish Bible, the Hebrew Names Version, the NASB 1995, the NKJV 1982, the ESV 2001-2011, Dan Wallace's NET version, the Holman Standard 2003 - "I WILL SPEAK of Your glorious splendor and Your wonderful works.", the Lexham Bible 2012, the Jubilee Bible of 2000 - "I WILL SPEAK of the beauty of the glory of thy majesty" and the Orthodox Jewish Bible 2011 - "I WILL SPEAK"
To repeat, the NIV says: "THEY SPEAK of the glorious splendor of your majesty", and then tells us that this reading comes from the Dead Sea Scrolls. Agreeing with the NIV reading are the Common English bible 2011 (another critical text edition), the Catholic Douay-Rheims of 1610, and the Douay of 1950, the St. Joseph New American bible 1970 and the 2009 Catholic Public Domain Version - "THEY SHALL SPEAK of the magnificence of the glory of thy holiness: and shall tell thy wondrous works." This means that the NIV reading actually comes from the Latin Vulgate and the Dead Sea Scrolls and now reads like the Catholic versions.
BUT let's take a closer look at these Dead Sea Scrolls. The book of Psalms in the DSS is numbered very differently from the Traditional Hebrew Masoretic text. They are all completely out of order. For example, they number 119, 135, 136, 145, 154, then a completely unknown Psalm, then 139, 137, 138 and then another completely unknown Psalm called Ben Sira 51 followed by The Apostrophe to Zion, and then Psalm 93. The whole book is very, very different.
Then in Psalm 145 itself all 21 verses in this DSS copy, including verse 5, are followed by the words "BLESSED BE THE LORD AND BLESSED BE HIS NAME FOR EVER AND EVER." Does the NIV include all these extra words that are also found in the Dead Sea Scrolls? No, of course not. And they call this type of selective nonsense "the science" of textual criticism and "new findings of scholarship"! I think God has a different opinion of it - "ye have PERVERTED the words of the living God" - Jeremiah 23:36
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