Hebrews 3:16 King James Bible - "For SOME, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit, NOT ALL that came out of Egypt by Moses."
Hebrews 3:16 NKJV (NIV, NASB, ESV, NET, Holman, modern Catholic versions, Jehovah Witness NWT) -
"For WHO, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, WAS IT NOT ALL who came out of Egypt, led by Moses?"
Notice that this is a statement in the King James Bible. Not everyone provoked God, but some did. Caleb and Joshua did believe God and the thousands of children from 20 years old and under did enter the promised land. It was only the grown men ages 20-up who were able to go to war (Numbers 1:3), numbering 603,548 (Numbers 1:46 minus Joshua and Caleb), who rejected God's command and died in the wilderness.
The children, women, elderly men (unable to go to war), and possibly even all of the Levites (they were not numbered for war - Numbers 1:47) who came out of Egypt (therefore numbering more than the fighting men as a whole by estimation) are not included in the group who provoked God and didn't believe Him. (Numbers 14:29, Deuteronomy 2:14) That is why the Hebrews 3:16 is quite accurate to say "some" and then to describe who those "some" were.
This is the reading of the Textus Receptus that underlies the King James Bible.
τινες γαρ ακουσαντες παρεπικραναν αλλ ου παντες οι εξελθοντες εξ αιγυπτου δια μωσεως.
If you have a hard copy of the 1894 Scrivener Textus Receptus, notice the period at the end of the sentence. This period (.) indicates that it is a statement. However in the UBS/Nestle-Aland Vatican supervised Critical text the verse ends with a semi-colon (;). The semi-colon indicates that the verse is a Question rather than a statement.
The NKJV clearly did NOT follow the traditional TR in this verse, but chose to go with the Critical text instead.
This is also the reading found in Wycliffe 1395, Tyndale 1525, Coverdale 1535 - "For some whan they herde, prouoked. Howbeit not all they yt came out of Egipte by Moses.", the Great Bible 1540, Matthew's Bible 1549, the Bishops' Bible 1568, the Geneva Bible 1587, the Beza N.T. 1599, Mace N.T. 1729, the Worsley N.T. 1770, Thomas Haweis N.T. 1795, Webster's 1833 translation, The New Covenant N.T. 1836, Youngs literal 1898, the Apostolic Bible Polyglot English text Bible, The Word of Yah 1993, the KJV 21st Century Version 1994, Interlinear Greek New Testament 1997 (Larry Pierce), The Lawrie Translation 1998, the Third Millennium Bible 1998, God's First Truth 1999, Green's literal of 2000, The Evidence Bible 2003, the Online Interlinear 2010 (André de Mol), The Holy Scriptures VW Edition 2010 - “For some who came out of Egypt through Moses, HOWEVER NOT ALL, HAVING HEARD, PROVOKED.", The Far Above All Translation 2011, the 2012 Knox Bible and the Bond Slave Version 2012.
Other Bibles that read just like the King James Bible are The Bill Bible 1671, The Clarke New Testament 1795 and then it comments "the whole congregation were drawn to murmur against Aaron and Moses, EXCEPT CALEB AND JOSHUA.", The Newcombe N.T. 1796, The Improved N.T. 1809, The Revised Translation 1815, The Kneeland N.T. 1823, The Longman Version 1841, The Morgan New Testament 1848, The Hewett N.T. 1850, The Kenrick N.T. 1862, The Anderson N.T. 1865, The Smith Bible 1876, The Dillard N.T. 1885, The Tomson New Testament 2002, The Revised Geneva Bible 2005, The Christogenea NT. 2009 - “For some hearing had rebelled, though not all of those coming out of Egypt with Moses.”, the Hebraic Transliteration Bible 2010 - "For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Mitzrayim by Mosheh.", The Work of God's Children Illustrated Bible 2011 and The New Matthew Bible 2016.
The Resurrection Life New Testament 2005 (Vince Garcia) - “For some who heard the message of their time did provoke God—THOUGH NOT ALL who came out of Egypt with Moses WERE GUILTY OF THIS.”
The Jubilee Bible 2010 agrees with the KJB and reads: "For some of those that came out of Egypt with Moses, when they had heard, did provoke; HOWBEIT NOT ALL."
The Concordant Version 2012 - “For some who hear embitter Him; BUT NOT ALL those coming out of Egypt through Moses. “
The Catholic/Jehovah Witness Connection
Though the early Catholic versions were not entirely based on the Traditional Greek texts, yet the early Catholic bible versions did follow the same reading found here in Hebrews 3:16. The 1582 Douay-Rheims as well as the 1950 Douay both correctly read: - "For some who heard did provoke: but not all that came out of Egypt by Moses."
However the more modern Catholic versions like the St. Joseph New American Bible of 1970 and the New Jerusalem bible 1985 now agree with the UBS critical text put together by the Vatican and "evangelicals".
The New Jerusalem reads like the ESV, NIV, NASB, NKJV, Holman and NET versions saying: "Who was it who listened and then rebelled? SURELY ALL those whom Moses led out of Egypt."
Likewise the Jehovah Witness New World Translation reads: "For who were they that heard and yet provoked to bitter anger? Did not, in fact, ALL DO SO who went out of Egypt under Moses?"
Foreign Language Bibles
Foreign language Bibles that follow the same Greek texts and have the same meaning as that found in the King James Bible are the Spanish Reina Valera 1909, the early Italian Diodati (I have a copy right here in front of me. Notice it is a statement, not a question) -"Percioché alcuni, avedndola udita lo irritarono; MA NON GIA TUTTI QUELLI CHE ERANO USCITID D' EGITTO PER OPERA DI MOSO." , the French Martin of 1744 -"Car quelques-uns l'ayant entendue, le provoquèrent à la colère; mais ce ne furent pas tous ceux qui étaient sortis d'Egypte par Moïse.", the Russian Synodal Bible 1876 - "Ибо некоторые из слышавших возроптали; но не все вышедшие из Египта с Моисеем.", the Finnish Bible 1776 - "Sillä koska muutamat sen kuulivat, niin he vihoittivat hänen, vaan ei kaikki, jotka Egyptistä Moseksen kautta läksivät ulos.", the Dutch Staten Vertaling Bible - "Want sommigen, als zij die gehoord hadden, hebben Hem verbitterd, doch niet allen, die uit Egypte door Mozes uitgegaan zijn.", the 2009 Romanian Fidela Bible - "Fiindca unii, dupa ce au auzit, au provocat; insa nu toti care au iesit din Egipt, prin Moise.", Luther's 1545 German Bible and the 2000 Schlachter Bible - "Denn etliche, da sie höreten, richteten eine Verbitterung an, aber nicht alle, die von Ägypten ausgingen durch Mose."
The earlier Spanish translations like the 1569 Sagradas Escrituras, the Reina Valera’s of 1858 and 1909 editions read just like the King James Bible. “Porque algunos de los que habían salido de Egipto con Moisés, habiendo oído, provocaron, However the latest 1960 and 1995 have been “revised” by people like Eugene Nida to adopt more of the Westcott-Hort readings. On the other hand, the 2010 Reina Valera Gómez Bible got it right, reading: " Porque algunos de los que habían salido de Egipto con Moisés, habiendo oído, provocaron, AUNQUE NO TODOS." = BUT NOT ALL.
The Portuguese Almeida of 1681 and the modern Almeida Corregida y Fiel as well as A Biblia Sagrada em Portugués also read as does the Traditional Greek text of the Reformation bibles saying - "Porque, havendo-a alguns ouvido, o provocaram; mas näo todos os que saíram do Egito por meio de Moisés."
Lamsa’s 1936 translation of the Syriac Peshitta is interesting in that it uses a question mark but still carries the same meaning as that found in the King James Bible. It says: “Who are those who have heard and provoked him? Were they not those who came out of Egypt under Moses, ALTHOUGH NOT ALL OF THEM? “
However here in Hebrews 3:16 the NKJV departs from the Greek text underlying the King James Bible and follows the Westcott-Hort text of the modern versions like the RSV, NASB, Holman, ESV, NIV, Jehovah Witness New World Translation and modern Catholic versions.
In the printed Greek text of Scrivener, put out by the Trinitarian Bible Society, a statement ends with an upraised period. And a question is signified by a semi-colon; The same is true in the printed Critical text. The difference between a statement and a question are marked in this way in both texts. In this case, the Textus Receptus that forms the basis of the Reformation Bibles is clearly marked out as a statement and that is how it stands in the KJB.
But here the NKJV editors did NOT follow the TR but they went with the question as found in the Nestle-Aland critical text instead of the statement as found in the TR. This is one of several instances where the NKJV does NOT follow the same TR readings that underlie the King James Bible.
The NKJV reads: "For WHO, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, WAS IT NOT ALL who came out of Egypt, led by Moses?"
The NKJV, along with the ESV, Holman, NIV, NASB, forces you to answer, Yes, it was all of them. But this is untrue.
Bible commentators, like the bible versions, often disagree with each other. But some notable Bible commentators agree with the way the King James Bible has translated this verse.
JOHN GILL on Hebrews 3:16 - "howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses"; that is, they did not all provoke, but some did; which is another aggravation of their sin; they were just come out of Egyptian bondage; brought out of it by the Lord, with the mighty and outstretched arm of his power; and yet they provoked him: but however all did not, yet these were but few; it seems only Caleb and Joshua, out of six hundred thousand; God will have a few to serve him in the worst of times."
MATTHEW HENRY comments: "Though the majority of hearers provoked God by unbelief, yet some there were who believed the report. God will have a remnant that shall be obedient to his voice, and he will take care of such and make mention of them with honour."
JOHN CALVIN also translates it the same way as found in the King James Bible and then comments about the unbelief of the many as opposed to the faith of the few. He remarks: “David spoke of the fathers as though that whole generation were unbelieving; but it appears that some who truly feared God mingled with the wicked. The apostle mentions this to modify what had been more severely said by David, in order that we may know that the word is preached to all for this end, that all may obey it with one consent, and that the whole people were justly condemned for unbelief, when the body was torn and mutilated by the defection of the greatest part. But by saying that some provoked, while yet they were by far the greatest part, this object was not only to avoid giving offense, but also to encourage the Jews to imitate those who believed; as though he had said, “As God forbids you to follow the unbelief of the fathers, so he sets before you other fathers whose faith is to be your example”.
JOHN OWEN also translates Hebrews 3:16 as it stands in the King James Bible and goes on in great detail to explain that SOME provoked and did not belief, while OTHERS did believe.
“The apostle adds expressly a limitation, with respect to the persons who heard and provoked: “Howbeit not all.” In his preceding discourse he had expressed the sin and punishment of the people indefinitely, so as at first view to include the whole generation in the wilderness, without exception of any. Here, out of the story, he puts in an exception of some even of them who came up out of Egypt under the conduct of Moses....Caleb and Joshua; and it is certain that these are principally, if not solely intended. Now, the reason why the apostle expresseth this limitation of his former general assertion is, that he might enforce his exhortation with the example of them who believed and obeyed the voice of God, and who thereon both enjoyed the promises and entered into the rest of God.”
Owens continues: “He that would choose his party by tale would scarce have joined himself with Caleb and Joshua, against the consent of about six hundred thousand men, who cried out to stone them because they were not of their mind. God’s way, indeed, is always to preserve some; but sometimes his way is to reserve but a few, — as we have seen in sundry instances before mentioned. They that provoked God were about six hundred thousand men, and upon the matter two only opposed them. But, in the language of the Holy Ghost, all that great multitude were but “some,” — some, not “all;” the principal part was preserved in those who were obedient. They were his portion, his inheritance, his jewels, dear to him as the apple of his eye...”
The People's New Testament Commentary - "3:16 For some, when they had heard, did provoke. Some in the wilderness heard God, but refused to listen, and did not provoke him. Howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses." There were a few exceptions: Joshua and Caleb, Eliezer, and perhaps some more of the Levites."
Matthew Poole's Bible Commentary - “Howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses: this rightly interprets the psalmist, and sets a better example of their fathers for them to follow. Let Caleb and Joshua, believers, and obedient to God, be your patterns to imitate. “
John Trapp’s Commentary - “Howbeit not all - Yet all fell in the wilderness save Joshua and Caleb.”
Additional sources which support the King James Bible reading.
Brother Steven Avery has done a lot of research on this verse and has found the following information.
LATIN EVIDENCES - OLD LATIN & VULGATE & REFORMATION BIBLES
Brother Avery writes: "First I think it is helpful to emphasize that the Rheims NT seems to be representing the full Old Latin and Latin manuscript evidence, 100% like the Reformation Bible. No Latin variants of significance having been referenced from :
Rheims - “For some who heard did provoke: but not all that came out of Egypt by Moses.”
quidam enim audientes exacerbaverunt sed non universi qui profecti sunt ab Aegypto per Mosen
As mentioned above, this is the Old Latin (Itala) line of 200 AD as well as the Vulgate translation of Jerome utilizing Latin and Greek ('the fountainhead' - Jerome) manuscripts in 400 AD. This solidifies the fact that these ancient translators and scholars, knowing the language much closer to the NT time, understood the uncial Greek as did the Reformation scholars much later. Thus the value of this evidence can be properly emphasized, against the modernists who tend to simply place it on ignore. Here is the early English translation from the Latin.
Wycliffe (1395) - “For some men hearing wrathed, but not all they that went out of Egypt by Moses.”
Beza's Latin translation - Nam quidam, quum audissent, exacerbarunt [Domine]: non omnes tamen ii qui exierunt ex AEgypto per Mosen.
Calvin's Latin translation (used in his commentaries) Quidam enim quum audissent, exacerbarunt; at non omnes qui egressi fuerant ex AEgypto per Mosen.
OTHER EARLY TEXT-LINES
B. W. Johnson, in the People's New Testament is another who did not mangle this meaning of the verse and gave commentary in synch with the verse.
“For some, when they had heard, did provoke. Some in the wilderness heard God, but refused to listen, and did not provoke him. Howbeit not all.” * There were a few exceptions; Joshua and Caleb, Eliezer, and perhaps some more of the Levites.
Similarly Lamsa from the Syriac. Note that also the two other main Peshitta translators, while using a question, also do not reverse the verse meaning. As is done by the NKJV and the modern versions.
Murdock - “But who were they that heard, and angered him ? It was not all they, who came out of Egypt under Moses. “
Etheridge- “For who are they who heard and provoked him ? Not all they who came out of Metsreen by the hand of Musha. “
Lamsa - “Who are those who have heard and provoked him? Were they not those who came out of Egypt under Moses, although not all of them? “
All the Syriac translators line up with the meaning of the Reformation Bible against the Westcott-Hort deformed version juggernaut which rolled over the NKJV. A good guideline with the Bible text is Reformed over deformed.
Here are a couple of additional fine commentaries.
An Exposition of Hebrews - Christ Superior to Moses. - Arthur Pink (1886-1952)
"For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses" (verse 16). The apostle here begins to describe the kind of persons who sinned in the provocation, amplification being given in what follows. His purpose in making mention of these persons was to more fully evidence the need for Christian watchfulness against hardness of heart, even because those who of old yielded thereto provoked God to their ruin. The opening "for" gives point to what has preceded. The unspeakably solemn fact to which He here refers is that out of six hundred thousand men who left Egypt, but two of them were cut off in the wilderness, Caleb and Joshua.
Thomas Chalmers (1780- 1847)
And let me not be insensible to the call of "to-day," that I may no longer postpone the good work either of faith or of repentance. Let it be remarked that "some" might signify a small or a very large proportion of the whole. It is said that some, howbeit not all, who came out of Egypt by Moses did provoke God : certainly not all — for both Caleb and Joshua were faithful, and got both an entry and an inheritance in the land of Canaan. Let them be examples to us, that we may shine as lights in the midst of a perverse and crooked generation.
Interestingly Edwin Gifford used the Hebrews verse as part of his interpretation of Romans, which led to the excellent Thomas Chalmers section above.
The Epistle of St. Paul to the Romans By Edwin Hamilton Gifford
Romans 3:3 - It is to be remarked that "some" in the original signifies a part of the whole, but not necessarily a small part of it. It may be a very great part and majority of the whole, — as in Hebrews iii. 16, where it is said, " Some when they heard provoked, howbeit not all that came out of Egypt with Moses." All did provoke God on that occasion except Joshua and Caleb, and those who were still too young to bear arms . . (Chalmers) - (end of notes by Steven Avery)
Hebrews 3:16 "For SOME, when they had heard, did provoke: HOWBEIT NOT ALL that came out of Egypt by Moses."
The King James Bible is right, as always!
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