Psalm 22 and the Dead Sea Scrolls – a video by Yosi Feigenbaum

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56 Responses to Psalm 22 and the Dead Sea Scrolls – a video by Yosi Feigenbaum

  1. Concerned Reader says:

    This is really a silly text to argue over anyway. Whether it is translated one way or another, is completely irrelevant to the message of the verse, IE enemies encircling. Zechariah 12:10 explicitly mentions piercing, using karu, the correct word, and mentioning grace for the house of David.

    Isaiah 53’s servant is taken to be either righreous Israel’s remnant, IE Israel, who is called God’s son, (who has a godly spark, IE metaphysical link to hashem in their soul in Jewish literature.)

    53 can also be Moshiach ben Yosef, who likewise is an indivodual leader of the generation.

    Rashi on Psalm 22 reads “like a lion” as lions biting the hands and feet.

    The point is, Moshiach is a cloud shape phenomenon in the Bible, and very rarely does anyone, Jewish or Christian, just go by “what the text plainly says” when dealing with the messiah concept.

    • Concerned Reader I believe that all of the texts are “silly to argue over” because the overall message of the Bible is abundantly clear. In any case, Zechariah 12:10 has “dakaru” which is a different word than “karu” – even the “-karu” part of “dakaru” is spelled differently in the Hebrew (with a “kuf” as a opposed to a “khaf”)

      1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >

      • “all of the texts are “silly to argue over” because the overall message of the Bible is abundantly clear” Amen, i like this. I can also agree with this only when the people of God believes the truth that meets with covenant love of God and in which righteousness and shalom kissed each other (Psalm 85:10)
        By the way, In KJV of Christian bible, the word “karu” has never been used to mean “pierce.” but all means “to dig.”
        It is so obvious that the word “Kaari” means “like a lion.”

      • Concerned Reader says:

        Rabbi, I think you missed my point.

    • Jim says:

      Hi Concerned Reader,

      I am not entirely certain that I understand your objection to answering the Christian misrepresentation of Psalm 22:16 with the truth. Whether or not the word in question means “pierced” or “like a lion” makes all the difference in the world to how the Christian represents the chapter. You write: “Whether it is translated one way or another, is completely irrelevant to the message of the verse, IE enemies encircling.” But, such an interpretation is completely unsatisfactory to the Christian. The image they wish to invoke is not just one of Jesus surrounded by enemies. Many people have been surrounded by enemies. Furthermore, the metaphor of the verse is unsatisfactory; metaphor can more easily be applied to multiple people. It is both the specificity and literalness of hands and feet being pierced that gives the verse its power for the Christian missionary. That vivid imagery recalls to the mind a specific kind of death, a death for which one person in history is particularly well-known. Because Jesus is associated with crucifixion, the mistranslation employed by the Church creates in the mind the impression that the means of his death were foretold hundreds of years before they happened.

      If not for the efficacy of this mistranslation, one would have no need to answer it. But, because the Christian is able to employ the mistranslation for its apparent crucifixion imagery, it needs to be addressed. Many people do not know that the verse does not say “like a lion.” And, they can be deceived by those that employ the mistranslation. It cannot be a bad thing to educate people. They should know what the verse actually says, before the false idea is put in their head that the verse that it speaks of hands and feet being pierced.

      One might wonder: why does the missionary not just fall back onto Zechariah? In Zechariah, it says “pierced” and nobody argues with that. And, in fact, the Gospel of John makes use of the verse, so why not just use that verse? The attraction to the mistranslation of Psalm 22:16 is its speficity. Zechariah merely mentions piercing, and the Gospel of John seems to relate this to Jesus’ side being pierced with a spear. Throughout history, many people have been pierced by swords, spears, bayonets—even pitchforks. Zechariah does not carry the specificity that the mistranslation of Psalm 22:16 does. The mistranslation calls up imagery that has been prominent in the west for 2,000 years now.

      Before someone puts his trust in a man, he should know the truth. He should know that the missionary has misrepresented the Hebrew Scriptures. (And let me acknowledge, that many missionaries do this out of ignorance themselves, not intending to deceive.) He should know that many of the prophecies that Jesus is supposed to have fulfilled are not Messianic prophecies; are not predictive at all, actually; and are sometimes mistranslated. He should know that “almah” does not mean “virgin” and “ka’ari” does not mean “pierced.” If those that know the truth remain silent, they will allow others to be misled.


      • Concerned Reader says:

        “One might wonder: why does the missionary not just fall back onto Zechariah? In Zechariah, it says “pierced” and nobody argues with that. And, in fact, the Gospel of John makes use of the verse, so why not just use that verse? The attraction to the mistranslation of Psalm 22:16 is its speficity. Zechariah merely mentions piercing, and the Gospel of John seems to relate this to Jesus’ side being pierced with a spear.”

        Thats exactly it though. When Psalm 22 is used, (as I said to the rabbi) the gospel authors would agree with him.

        If anything, Zechariah 12 is far more specific, because it mentions grace, the house of David, and the piercing. Victory for Israel at the same time as there is mourning.

        One wonders indeed why the missionary uses that part of Psalm 22 when its not needed.

        My point at the samw time though was, even with the majority reading, it doesn’t change the imagery or intention. Like a lion, my hands my feet. What do lions do to hands and feet?

        • Jim says:

          Concerned Reader,

          If you mean that missionaries should rely upon Zechariah for the imagery of the crucifixion, then please feel free to tell them how they should structure their arguments. I do not see any reason not to answer their misrepresentations; nor have you given one.


        • LarryB says:

          In my Artscroll it says: “like (the prey of) a lion, are my hands and feet.” They put, “the prey of” in brackets. Has that been inserted for clarity or is it in the original copy?

          • LarryB says:

            As you can imagine, your hands and feet would be pretty useless if a lion had you by the neck.

  2. Concerned Reader says:

    Rabbi, allow me to adress my point with greater clarity. When the gospel writers themselves quote Psalm 22, they put it in the mouth of Jesus while he is suffering on the cross. If we picture ourselves 2,000 years ago, we would see the magnificence of the Temple (that had been lavishly upgraded by Herod, a man who killed his own children, a man who couldn’t even enter the Temple) with the fortress of Antonia virtually right on top of it.

    A legion of Roman troops would be in town for the holiday to “keep the peace” among the populace. The Sadducean high priest would be presiding over various activities, the Qumran sectarians would be where they were, complaining about how the temple is being run by wicked men in an impure fashion.

    Whatever the translation is that you choose, like a lion, or they pierced would be irrelevant, as the imagery and message of that Psalm would be burned into anyones brain at that point, for any group of students watching their rabbi die in that situation in a horrific manner.
    In the video you posted,

    the presenter shows how no such word as Ka’aru exists, that it is a mistake, but he notes that the variant is there.

    2 scrolls have that variant, there is even a late masoretic variant that has the correct form of Karu in it, apparently that scribe extrapolated. Does this mean anything? not really. What about the LXX versions that likewise have this variant as well, in texts earlier than then most masoretic manuscripts?

    As I pointed out, even ignoring the weird non existent word of Ka’aru, with rashi, you can even read like a lion, and still get to the notion of being mauled by beasts, IE horrifically treated by gentile oppressors, such as being crucified, or thrust through.

    In fairness to the gospel writers themselves, they didn’t even use “they pierced.” in their text. They wrote about Jesus being thrust through on his side by the spear of longinus, an actual allusion to someone being thrust through a la Zechariah 12:10, and being given gall and vinegar a la Psalm 69.

    I’m sure the gospel writers would probably say that you are 100% right about whether the text says like a lion, but its not a snowballs chance that they would say that verse was irrelevant to what they allegedly saw.

    • Concerned Reader says:

      I did answer you Jim. The author of the video said that in the Scrolls, in their writing style, it is understood that “the vav and Yud are somewhat interchangeable depending on context.”

      That explains why we have variants across versions, across times, that have the variant karu, ( and yes there are masoretic manuscripts that use the correct form of “to dig” without that extra aleph.)

      We then have homiletic readings of like a lion that strongly infer mauling and or biting of lions.

      Again, what is the proper context of like a lion in regards to hands and feet? What do lions do to hands and feet?

      • Jim says:

        Hi Concerned Reader,

        Digging is not piercing. Nor is it sound to accept an incredibly rare variant spelling, because it suits one’s purpose… almost.

        I cannot recall a Christian missionary appealing to homiletical readings in laying out the case for believing in Jesus. It just does not pack the same punch. I invite you to make the case to Jews for Jesus that they should stop using the deceiving translation, and instead appeal to homily.

        If you mean that lions tie hands and feet to a plank of wood and drive nails through… I’ve never seen it. Maybe.


        • Concerned Reader says:

          Jim, the Psalm mentions, a sword, bulls, Dogs, and a lion. How does a bull threaten a person, and how poetically do you draw a paralell between a bull and a sword?

          • Jim says:

            Hi Concerned Reader,

            I see no relevance to your question. I can see why you would ask it of a missionary: to lead him to stop misrepresenting the word “ka’ari” through the argument that he can rely upon the metaphorical language alone to further propagate his propaganda. Whether or not he will heed your advice, I cannot say, but I suspect not. It is most likely that he will use what you say in a defensive manner.

            That is to say, when the Christian approaches a prospective proselyte, he is likely to rely upon the mistranslation, “pierced.” The literal piercing of hands and feet is much more powerful than a metaphor. The imagery of it is much more likely to bring the crucifixion immediately to the target’s mind. It will only be when he feels his faith has been challenged, that he will appeal to the metaphor. It will be the fall-back position, a defense of his mistranslation and of his faith. He is likely to say that even if the word does not literally mean pierced, the verse indicates an injury to the hands and feet, surely a symbol of the crucifixion. Then he will reference Rashi’s commentary as well. All of this will be in service of the mistranslation. He is not likely to advocate dropping the mistranslation altogether, but why not try? Perhaps you can convince him.


            P.S. When you make the case to the missionary, however, I would not focus on swords. Although the Romans had swords, the certainly are not the main focus of the crucifixion narrative, excepting Peter’s, of course. A spear would be much more useful for their purposes.

  3. Concerned Reader says:

    Jim, just curious but did you know that Persians practiced Crucifixion and flaying before the Romans did?

    • Jim says:

      Hi Concerned Reader,

      I believe Herodotus mentions it, but it has been some time since I have read him, so I may be misremembering.


      • Concerned Reader says:

        I find it interesting that not a small number of rabbinic commentators connect psalm 22 to Esther and Haman’s attempt to kill all the people of Israel, and it turns out that it was Persians who invented crucifixion.

        So, we have commentary that takes a Psalm about David and his troubles, (in his time) and applies it to Esther, and Mordechai and their troubles with the Persians (in their time) (Persians likened to bulls and lions,) and it just so happens that Persians invented Crucifixion? Then we have homily that essentially says lions maul hands and feet?

        I see a pattern there, not necessarily an intentional pattern, but it seems interesting.

        • Jim says:

          Hi Concerned Reader,

          I hardly know what to say. Tortuous reasoning–resembling a Rube Goldberg Machine–does not interest me. I do think that you should present this to the missionaries, though. Just as with your other arguments, I doubt that they will prefer them above the clean simplicity of their mistranslation. However, it will be useful for their defense. When defending their faith, such convolutions do not bother them so much. As long as they can find some way to their desired end–finding the crucifixion in Psalm 22:16–they are likely to make use of such arguments, despite their conspiratorial tone. The apologetic arguments of Christians tend to assume the end and look for a path of interpretation to get there, so they should accept this without too much trouble.

          Well done.


        • Dina says:

          Omg, Con! This is not up to your usual standard.

        • Yosi Feigenbaum says:

          The addition of extra alephs א to the text is a QUMRANIC practice. The fragment is not Qumranic. Therefore כארו cannot be a Qumranic version of כרו.

  4. Concerned Reader says:

    Its just an oddity of history, not a nefarious convolution that I have made. You guys need to relax. lol I in fact, did nothing interperative at all.

    I jusf read the rabbinic interpretations of Psalm 22, and then noted something historically true.

    The Persians invented Crucifixion. Just check an encyclopedia.

    If rabbinic commentary can decontextualize and apply this Psalm to Esther (when that is not the plain textual meaning, or subject of the Psalm) its hardly a surprise when another sect does the same exact thing, by applying it thematically to their Messianic claimant.

    My whole point was that the gospels and epistles themselves dont even quote this text as saying they pierced, that they only rely on it thematically.

    The writers would agree with rabbi B’s reading of like a lion.

    They rely on Zechariah 12:10, Psalm 96, and parts of Psalm 22 thematically to see the passion narrative, and Zechariah ACTUALLY DOES MENTION PIERCING, and that is the text the NT actually used.

    I just found it ironic that most rabbinic commentaries read this as refering to Mordechai, Esther, and Purim, (a plot to kill all the innocent people,) when the very people persecuting them within this interperative context invented crucifixion.

    Now, to me (as per the Psalm itself) its just about David, reflecting on the fact that enemies wish him harm.

    However, because you are allowed to radically decontextualize, and apply this verse to people from a later time, a different situation, the sky is the limit.

    I just pointed out that even if all your readings are accepted, the theme can be seen there, even if sheerly by stupid accident.

    • Concerned Reader says:

      Jim, if the reading is Tortuous, then its not on me. Its not my reading!

      I looked at what rabbis have said it means, (giving their reading the benefit of the doubt) and then I pointed out something that is just historically accurate.

      Between this, and Rashi’s statement of what lions do to hands and feet, even granting all the traditional readings, thematic paralell is there.

      Don’t accuse me of a Tortuous reading, take it up witb those who radically decontextualized psalm 22, and applied it in a way roughly analogous to how NT writers thematixally apply texts.

    • Jim says:

      Hi Concerned Reader,

      Superficially, it will appear that the counter-missionary subject Christian interpretation to a double-standard: he accepts Jewish homily, while considering Christian homily an abuse of scripture—midrash for me but not for thee! However, this is to misunderstand the different uses to which each puts homiletical interpretation, as your comments on Psalm 22 demonstrate.

      When a rabbi homiletically links Psalm 22 to the attempt by Haman to eradicate the Jews, it is not essential to him that you accept his interpretation. He is attempting to draw out some similarities between a known historical event and ideas contained in the psalm. If someone were to object to him that Psalm 22 is about David himself, the rabbi will not object to that. Nor will he say that Psalm 22 is a proof that Haman was a real figure whose coming and persecution of the Jewish people was foretold, thereby validating the Book of Esther. Most importantly, nothing of Jewish theology is threatened by rejecting the homiletical interpretation, because the theology is not founded upon midrash; rather, midrash is used to illustrate Jewish theology.

      However, Christian midrash is an illusion and a distraction—a shell game. The missionary begins by putting forward the notion that Jesus was predicted in the “Old Testament.” He will point to various passages in the prophets and ask: “How could Isaiah have known this hundreds of years before it happened?” “Who told Jeremiah that the Messiah would undergo such-and-such?” “How could David have predicted such an unlikely event?” The answer must be that the Holy Spirit of God revealed to these men what they should write. Only God could have known what the future held in store. Only God could have known His plans for humanity and for the Messiah. This, of course, is not midrash. His argument is that the straightforward meaning of these texts predicts that the Messiah would complete this work or suffer this abuse.

      One of the texts that a missionary will use as a prediction of Jesus, not as a midrash—not initially anyway—is Psalm 22:16. When he presents the text, he presents the question: “When did David have his hands and feet pierced?” Because David is not known to have suffered any such piercing, then the question is asked: “Then, about whom could this be written? Who is known for having his hands and feet pierced?” Again, this is not midrash. The missionary is asserting that David, through the power of prophecy, wrote hundreds of years before Jesus about a crucifixion, and though many have been crucified, one man in history is most closely associated with the crucifixion. David could only have been writing through the power of the Holy Spirit about the crucifixion of Jesus, which would be a wonder, if it were true.

      However, it is not true.

      It is after this fraud is revealed that the missionary becomes a counter-counter-missionary (CCM). The role of the CCM is to defend the faith. The CCM will say that the interpretation of the passage follows midrashic principles. He has departed from his original message, suiting it to his new goal. The CCM will claim that the Jew cannot object to a midrash, because the Jew himself accepts midrash: “How fanciful are the teachings of the rabbis!” And so the CCM claims the Jew employs a double-standard, and his objections to Christian misuse of scripture should not be heeded.

      It cannot be overemphasized how the missionary has altered the terms of the debate, however. He begins with a mistranslation that creates a seemingly strong association with Jesus. That the plain meaning could not apply to David is important. If he accepted the proper translation of “like a lion,” rather than pierced, the passage need not be applied to Jesus. Poetry allows for metaphorical “hands and feet.” Injury need not even be implied by the presence of lions. The passage could mean that David is paralyzed with fear, unable to defend himself or escape danger. The possibility of such a reading undermines the necessity of relating it to Jesus, upon which the missionary had relied. As a missionary, he did not wish to say only that it could possibly be applied to Jesus. He attempted to show that it must be applied to Jesus. It is only afterward, when he changes role from missionary to CCM, that he appeals to midrash, that he admits that the passage need not literally be about Jesus, only that it can be applied homiletically to him.

      The great deception here goes beyond this one verse. The entire structure of the missionaries’ messianic claims hinges on passages that are at best homilies and at worst outright lies. Jesus’ failure to fulfill Messianic prophecy demanded an alternate form of proof that he was the Messiah. Credentials were manufactured out of supposed predictions that he fulfilled to meet this need. To this day, Christians will claim that Jesus fulfilled more than 300 prophecies, prophecies that pre-dated him by centuries. However, these prophecies are proven frauds, misrepresentations all.

      You have written that Jewish and Christian definitions of “Messiah” are equally vaporous, neither having any better support than the other. This is clearly incorrect, as the missionaries themselves testify. The missionary does not argue that the Jewish definition is entirely false—only incomplete. He agrees that the Messiah will do all the things that the Jewish people say he will do. He only says that he will do it later, because, Jesus has not done it yet. He says that Jesus made a down payment or gave an engagement ring or some such metaphor in his first coming, and that he will fulfill the Jewish definition of the Messiah when next he comes. The reason he accepts the Jewish definition of the Messiah is that it is clearly spelled out in Tanach. The Jewish definition of the Messiah relies upon the literal meaning of the passages upon which it relies.

      Having failed to fulfill these prophecies, the Church manufactured others that would establish Jesus’ credentials. These have been discussed and discussed, so I see no need to enumerate them. But, virtually none of those prophecies are predictions in the way the missionary makes them out to be. And, whenever they are shown not to be predictions of the sort that he claims, he changes hats from missionary to CCM and argues on the defensive. He appeals to midrash, double fulfillments, and all manner of trickery to obfuscate, abandoning his original contention, all the while accusing the Jew of bad faith. And, he relies upon the overwhelming number of false predictions to keep alive the notion that some of these must be literal predictions that stand up to scrutiny. If he gives ground on one. admitting that it is not as strong as some others or is a type and not a literal fulfillment, still he can appeal to the number 300+. Proving even 30 wrong leaves more than 90% of the predictions seemingly unrefuted.

      But it is not just the credentials that are hidden in these so-called midrashim, but a new definition for the Messiah itself. Midrashim are meant to exemplify principles already known from Torah. Christian “midrashim” are meant to justify new principles invented by the Church. They are meant to serve as justification for new definitions, not just for Messiah, but for God, the priesthood, salvation, sacrifice—justification for a whole new theology. That theology is not learned through open statements of the Torah, but is a projection of Christian doctrine into the Torah, often in direct contradiction to the clear, open, and direct teaching of the Torah. This is not midrash at all!

      If one does not accept Christian midrash, Christian theology—as vaporous at its Messianic claims—disappears. This is not the case with true midrashim. If one does not accept a midrash on Psalm 22 relating it to the events in Esther, one’s theology suffers not a whit. For the Christian, rejection of the midrash is rejection of his theology, a theology without clear support in the text. Those indications of Jesus supposed to be found in the “Old Testament,”—those shadows—disappear in the light of clear Torah learning.


  5. Concerned Reader says:

    Has that been inserted for clarity or is it in the original copy?

    Larry, “like prey of” is not in the original, it is just there for added clarity. And we can totally understand why.

    Like a lion, my hands and feet is not poetically clear. Translators have some room there.

    • Dina says:


      I guess I should explain why I thought what you said was, forgive me, a little off the wall.

      You asserted that it’s silly to quibble over the definition of “ka’ari” because even if the missionaries’ translation is wrong, it doesn’t change anything.

      But I disagree.

      First of all, if the missionaries mistranslate something, as they so often do, we must call them out on it because every lie (or to be generous, mistake) undermines their credibility. If you believe your opponent is peddling falsehood and is using that falsehood to ensnare unsuspecting people, you will want to take every opportunity to undermine his credibility at every turn.

      The egregious and ignorant mistranslation is therefore very important.

      Second, it absolutely does change everything, because who are we kidding here? The imagery of getting mauled by a lion is wildly different from the imagery of a crucifixion. Sorry to be gory, but there is a whole lot of difference, visually, between a neat little puncture in each palm and a hungry lion consuming the flesh of the hands and feet. And if you want to add the scourging of Jesus, being beaten with a whip still looks very different from being eaten by a lion. It’s pretty clear.

      So to answer your question, what do lions do to hands and feet? The answer is not, they pierce them. The answer is, they consume them.

      Which brings me to the commentaries that compare this to the Babylonian exile. The reason you think this is a far-fetched explanation is because you do not understand the context through which the Jewish people view the Book of Psalms. King David in Jewish tradition represents the Jewish nation. Thus, his sufferings take on national and historical significance and are metaphors for Jewish suffering. The metaphor of Psalm 22 is one of being beset by enemies bent on consuming him (hence the wild animals). This is a motif that appears again and again throughout Jewish history. We are beset by enemies intent on consuming us, and sometimes they do manage to get a hand there and a foot there (I would say that during the Holocaust they got almost the whole body). When we feel beset by enemies (which is, like, almost all the time), Psalm 22 is the Psalm we turn to. So with this context, it’s not a far cry to see this motif representing any national crisis, including the Babylonian exile.

      The commentary does not exclude the plain meaning, either. It is not a contradiction at all.

      • Concerned Reader says:

        That was part of the point Dina. Israel in Babylon and the Roman exile, David’s sufferings, Esther and Purim, all of this content from the Psalm, and its traditional association with exile and suffering by gentile oppressors thematically would have resonated with anyone seeing their rabbi scourged (scourging would be quite similar to an animal mauling,) and nailed to a cross.

        Anyone, not just Jesus’ disciples could have used that Psalm.

        And, as I pointed out, 3 times now, the Christian Bible itself doesn’t even actually mis translate this verse. It doesn’t mention piercing, except in the context of a quote from Zechariah, which was an accurate quote.

        Its because this Psalm can so easily refer to Israel’s various historical sufferings in exile that I dont find it odd that someone might apply it to a Crucifixion.

        • Dina says:

          Con, the fact that the Christian bible doesn’t use this verse is irrelevant. We are responding to its use by Christian missionaries. And it’s very important to them that this creates an image of hands and feet and being pierced. Christian missionaries are likely not aware of the Jewish view of this passage referring to national Jewish suffering, so it’s highly improbable that they selected this passage for that reason.

          Be that as it may. The fact of the matter is, the word “ka’aru” does not exist in the Hebrew language. The fact of the matter is, the verse in question does not mean what missionaries want it to mean. The fact of the matter is, it does not mean that his hands and feet were pierced. We are pointing out the missionary’s mistake; whether the missionary wants to then fall back to your defensive argument is therefore also irrelevant.

          If something is mistranslated and used as a proof text, of course we are going to point it out. This isn’t hard, Con!

          • Concerned Reader says:

            I’m not saying that you should not point it out. Far be it from that.

            It is absolutely relevant that the gospel writers did not use Psalm 22:16 as support for a piercing mistranslation. That means you already win Dina. : ) but it also means the Christians can send you on a goose chase.

            The text the authors actually used for piercing was Zechariah 12:10 where they did not actually misquote it. That;s important, because they jump into poetic interpretation when you point out the mistranslation.

            I agree with you 100% that Christian missionaries are wrong to use the Psalm 22:16 verse that way. Part of the issue is, its a rabbit hole they want you to go down.

            My point is, the way the verse is interpreted in your tradition (being applied variously to David, Esther, the Babylonian exile, and Jewish suffering generally,) its not odd that someone seeing a Crucifixion in Roman times would apply this verse in some way. When Psalm 22 and Zechariah 12:10 are read together, you definitely get that picture of some poor dude dying a horrific death.

            I mean, the NT authors did in fact apply Psalm 22 anyway without even bringing up a piercing using this Psalm!

            That means you win the argument on textual grounds of their own book, which ends up being the case most of the time anyway. : )

            But it also means that Just like your commentaries applied it to Esther, the Christians applied it (without this mistranslated verse) to Jesus.

            Now, Jim made the point that poetic reading doen’t build doctrine in Judaism, but I would disagree based on the belief in resurrection, and the verses the rabbis use to justify it.

            I would also say that legal norms for non Jews are likewise based on homiletic readings.

            So, the Christian can make a case of “midrash for me but not for thee” as Jim said.

            “Christian missionaries are likely not aware of the Jewish view of this passage referring to national Jewish suffering, so it’s highly improbable that they selected this passage for that reason.”

            They are indeed aware Dina.

            Dr Brown has a video where he speaks about rabbis bringing up the Psalm 22:16 verse and this mistransaltion, and Brown smiles with that gotchya smile that he gets, and says “that isn’t quoted in the New Testament.”

            Do you see that Its a rabbit hole that the Christians want you to run down?

            The “to dig” vs like a lion argument is a black hole. The variants are there, and even though they are meaningless variants, someone can make a poetic case when reading it.

            The issue is that Christians use 5/6 Hev Psa as “proof” that “the Rabbis” purposely corrupted the text and that, therefore, the Masoretic text is inferior to the LXX.

            Actually they point out a variant that is there (even in Masoretic manuscripts) that their text doesn’t even use to get you to run down a rabbit hole, when they know their book does not quote this Psalm that way, and they can build a case solely from poetry.

  6. Yosi says:

    I see that most of the comments here relate to the ka’ari vs. ka’aru (non-) controversy. There is another, larger issue that is not being discussed, and that is the main reason I made this video.

    The issue is that Christians use 5/6 Hev Psa as “proof” that “the Rabbis” purposely corrupted the text and that, therefore, the Masoretic text is inferior to the LXX. This claim is, of course, as absurd as it is slanderous. My video proves that no “rabbi” nor scribe changed this text, rather that the missionary will go to any length to denigrate Jews and our Sages.

    One more point for clarification there are actually 4 (not 3) final yods in the fragment. This is not a mistake, rather the image I showed towards the end of the video shows only 3.

    Thanks for linking!

    Kol tuv,


  7. Concerned Reader says:

    Here is a great blog post discussing the Psalm 22 controversy.

    It could well be that Christians are maliciously mistranslating this text for doctrinal reasons, but I have a small issue with that.

    Why do several early Christian copies by fathers like Jerome say “they bound”?

    If the Christians manufactured the variant “to dig”, surely it would be used across their whole tradition?

    Better yet, if it was solely a Christian theological ploy (as opposed to an attested vatiant, to say dug ) why didn’t the Synoptic authors actually quote Psalm 22 as saying that?

    Why is there a late medieval Masoretic variant that reads Karu (they dug?) Where a masorite scribe is actually correcting the non existant word Ka’aru from the LXX with the Aleph, replacing it with the corect Karu without the aleph?

    Why would a masoretic manuscript contain not just an LXX variant, but the correction of it to read Karu?

    This suggests attestation as the driving factor.

    There are Bible scholars who are not even Christians who support Ka’aru (seen by them as a scribal misspelling) of Karu only because that is a variant that is attested across versions, in different languages, and is an ancient variant in old manuscripts.

    It sticks around not just because Christians use it, (Bible scholars seldom give a flip what Christians like.)

    Its all in the attestation.

    • Dina says:

      The word “ka’aru” does not exist in the Hebrew language.

      The word “to dig” makes absolutely no sense in this context.

      • Concerned Reader says:

        Like a lion my hands my feet also doesn’t make sense, so they use that to then say “well, our text doesn’t even rely on this mistranslated verse, and the verse screams for interpretation no matter which word we use.”

        Do they seize on an obscure variant? sure. The trap however is believing that their reading relies on that. Getting you to demolish this is just getting you to run down a rabbit hole.

        • Dina says:

          I don’t see why getting us to demolish it is running down a rabbit hole, going on a wild goose chase, and all the other metaphors. To me it’s very demolishable, and once it’s demolished any reasonable person will agree that it stays demolished.

          That said, most of the people who pose this argument are not reasonable, so they will remain unpersuaded.

          • Yosi says:

            It is actually very important to deal with these missionary claims.

            1st of all, if you don’t take the time to answer them the missionaries will say that you don’t have answers and they’re parade around like a peacock saying that they even an Orthodox Jew had no answer for them.

            2nd of all, in the world of social media there are often tens of eaves-droppers following these interchanges. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been contacted by people who are afraid to post because they’re afraid that their families and friends will discover that they have questions.

            This is why you must answer the missionary with a velvet gloved fist. Always try to remain respectful. The eaves-droppers will very soon learn who possesses the truth and who is selling garbage theology.

            If we save one Jew from their clutches or teach one Christian that a claim is false, thereby causing them to stop using that claim, we have achieved something.

            Kol Tuv!


  8. Concerned Reader says:

    Yossi, I agree with you. When I said this was a silly text to argue over, its because it lends itself to poetic reading, and the gospels themselves dont even quote the mistranslation.

    That means the Christians can run you down a

    rabbit hole, and then claim (like Brown does) “even if I accept their reading it doesn’t change anything.”

    I do not mean to downplay your video, its very good.

    • Yosi says:

      Oh G-d forbid!!! I never thought for a minute that you were! No need to apologize at all! (And thank you for the kind words!)

      The only things that Christians have is the rabbit hole and faith. “I believe” is not an argument and it is extremely rare to find one who will say that they are wrong. There a lot of human-ness in that last statement. Eventually though many do an I have found that the knowledge that I have an audience to be very beneficial. Usually it becomes very obvious to the listener that a missionary-type is flailing so I let them try and “rabbit-hole” always reminding them that they are straying from the meaning of the thread. One extremely important thing that I discussed in my very 1st video is the importance of differentiating between pshat and drash. Once you take drash away from them they are totally lost.

      BTW, if you are a Hebrew speaker here is a tremendously important video by Professor Uriel Simon on the subject.

      If not, here is my video (Professor Simon’s is SO much better!)

      Oh an please forgive the quality of presentation. This was one of my 1st attempts at a YouTube video.

      Kol Tuv and thanks again!


      • Sharon S says:

        Hi Yosi,

        I have been eaves dropping on your conversation here and watched your video on Pshat & Drash (the English one). Thank you for the informative video. You mentioned the following point (among a few) towards the end of the video:
        “While it is okay for the Darshan to change the facts it is not okay to say those changes are the facts. If we are dealing with the biblical texts it would be blasphemous”

        I would like to understand further on the concept of Pshat & Drash . Appreciate if you can look into the following:

        Question #1: Is the passage in Romans 10:6-13 (Christian Scriptures) actually a Drash on Deuteronomy 30:11-14 ?

        Romans 10:6-13
        “But the righteousness that is by faith says: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’”(that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the deep?’”(that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim: If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

        Deuteronomy 30:11-14
        Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, “Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, “Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” 14 No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.

        Question #2 :If yes , in your opinion are these changes regarded as facts in the Christian Scriptures? Is this blasphemous ?

        Question #3: I noticed a similar situation in the Talmud-Sanhedrin 56 where R’Yochanan derived the 7 laws from Genesis 2:16 . According to the Pshat (plain reading) of Genesis 2:16 -G-d commanded Adam that he is free to eat from any tree in the garden, except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

        Did R’Yochanan did a drash on Genesis 2:16 in order to derive/allude to the 7 laws? Does the derivation of the 7 laws from this Talmudic piece constitute a changing of the facts? Is it acceptable to conclude that the 7 laws are the facts? Is this blasphemous ?

        Question #4: Is the example taken from the Christian Scriptures any different from the example taken from the Talmud? If yes , why?

        Appreciate your response. Do inform if you are unclear on the above questions.

        Thank you.

        • Yosi says:

          Hi Sharon.

          I am more than glad to answer your questions. Before I continue I just wanted to state that I am not going to state whether the drash that you provide is good or bad drash. I will just try and point out an issue or two. I will leave out the translation-al issues.

          Question #1 – When Romans says
          ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’”(that is, to bring Christ down)
          ‘Who will descend into the deep?’”(that is, to bring Christ up from the dead)

          What is the actual context; what is Moses saying? Just back up to Deuteronomy 30:10

          “when you obey the Lord, your God, to observe His commandments and His statutes written in this Torah scroll, [and] when you return to the Lord, your God, with all your heart and with all your soul.”

          Moses is talking about keeping the commandments and how they are not difficult to keep and that they are close to you.

          Romans is taking this out of context which, for drash, is perfectly acceptable BUT this is not what the text actually says and it would be, therefore, inadmissible as proof.

          Question #2 – You ask, “in your opinion are these changes regarded as facts in the Christian Scriptures? Is this blasphemous ?” As long as they are stated as being drash and as long as the reader is not led to believe that the change is correct, then no, but, all to often this is simply not the case. Take verse Isaiah 7:14 which Matthew quotes as “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel.” The verse in Hebrew:
          * does not say virgin but rather young woman
          * the woman is already noticeably pregnant. She will not conceive in the future.
          * she calls the child Immanuel and not “they”
          There are other issues with Matthew 1:23 but this should suffice. Now the question. Do YOU believe that Matthew is correctly quoting Isaiah? If so, were you ever told to believe otherwise? If you, indeed accept Matthew’s “quotation” as valid and if you were never told that you should believe otherwise then I would say that Matthew 1:23 is blasphemy because it is stating its allegory as the simple meaning when it is clearly allegorical (at best.)

          Question #3 – It’s kind of late so I’m going to do this one from memory. At least 3 of the laws are directly stated directly in the text said to Noah. Regarding the other laws and the way he extrapolated them, he is not saying that the text says something that it doesn’t say, in fact he points to a different text on every law. This is a very well established method known as asmachta which means that there is some basic point in the text that we are basing our interpretation on. There is more to say on this but it is clearly in the realm of the legitimate.

          Question #4 – As I stated earlier, if the Christian scripture stays true to the original and if the reader (and writer) knows that what is being presented is an interpretation then there is no problem. The problems begin when they change the original text and present the changed (or invented) text as the true text.

          Sharon, I am just completing a video on how some people in the Christian world use different text and bad scholarship in order to disqualify the Masoretic text as the Hebrew Bible of record. Instead of looking at the facts the facts must be changed because those facts make Christians uncomfortable. I hope you realize that’s a problem

          If we want to understand the text we must read it as a detective would. The bible doesn’t care about our feelings and beliefs. It is a text and we must treat it with respect; let it say what it wants to say and let the cards fall as they will.

          I hope that I answered your questions satisfactorily.

          G-d Bless and thanks for asking!


          • Dina says:

            If I might add here, drash cannot repeal Torah law. That is the main rule for Biblical exegesis. Thus, when Paul uses “drash” to show that faith in Jesus replaces observance of Torah law, he is violating the main rule; he is perverting drash for his own ends. He uses clever language that mimics drash, but it’s a twisted use of the thing.

          • Yosi says:

            Absolutely spot on Dina. Thanks for saving me from writing an addendum!

            Kol Tuv!


          • yosi says:

            Professor Simon says that drash’s lack of limitation is like an atom bomb. You can basically make the text say anything you want. That is precisely why we must reject it when we want to see what the text actually says.

            BTW, Professor Simon does have some lectures in English, just not the pshat/drash one.

            Kol Tuv!

          • Sharon S says:

            Hi Yosi,

            Thank you for replying to these questions. I am truly grateful.
            I would like to thank Dina for the additional information.

            I compared Matthew 1:23 and Isaiah 7:14 (via the Sefaria app) .To answer your question , Matthew did not quote Isaiah correctly . Matthew 1:23 is often proclaimed during Christmas services /nativity pageants and no one told me to believe otherwise. I accepted Matthew’s “quotation” until I come to learn of its errors in this blog and from you as well. Thank you for pointing this out to me.

            I hope you don’t mind if I bring up another scenario. It has been pointed out that the missionary used proof texts to justify the credentials of Jesus as the Messiah . One example is found in Matthew 2:14 “And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”. Matthew would have quoted Hosea 11:1 “When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and out of Egypt I called My son” . The text in Hosea refers to Israel but Matthew applied it to Jesus. Hence counter missionaries and ex-christians critique the usage of this type of proof text.

            However ,it can also be argued that Matthew would have quoted Hosea 11:1 because Jesus, like Israel had to go to Egypt and , like Israel, was brought out of Egypt. In addition , Jesus is regarded as the first born of all creation (Colossians 1:15).

            I come across a similar pattern in Talmud as well. Let me quote the Talmudic portion –Sanhedrin 56b below:
            “The verse is interpreted homiletically as follows: With regard to the term “and…commanded,” these are the courts of judgment; and so it states in another verse: “For I have known him, to the end that he may command his children and his household after him, that they may keep the way of the Lord, to do righteousness and justice” (Genesis 18:19).”

            Rabbi Yochanan derived the one of the Noachide command -to set up courts based on the word “and..commanded” from Genesis 2:16 “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you are free to eat” . It seems that Rabbi Yochanan is doing the same thing as what Matthew would have done with Hosea- taking a word or phrase and alluding to something else. The plain reading of Genesis 2:16 records of G-d commanding Adam that he is free to eat from any tree in the garden, except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Rabbi Yochanan would have seen this phrase as alluding to the command to set up courts.

            It seems to me that Rabbi Yochanan and Matthew could have been using the same method of interpretation–associating a word or phrase in the biblical texts in order to allude to one of the 7 laws (in Rabbi Yochanan’s case) or to relate to Jesus’s exit from Egypt (in Matthew’s case). Why then is Matthew criticized for his interpretation of the Jewish scriptures (in Matthew 2:14) ? Is there any difference between the two?

            I’m sorry for asking additional questions. Please inform if you are not clear . Thank you for your patience.

      • Dina says:

        Wow, I love this explanation!

  9. Concerned Reader says:

    Once you take drash away from them they are totally lost.

    I realized this pretty early on in university studying Judaism as part of my comparitive rrligion degree.

    Unfortunately, there is too much drash (in my opinion) that they can latch onto. Probably is one reason they have lasted as long as they have.

    Dont know if you have read any of the articles that I have written on here, but the reliance on midrash is something very apparent.

    • Yosi says:

      It’s not that there’s “too much drash” rather they don’t understand the difference between pshat and drash. More serious though is that most Jews don’t really know the difference either. I believe that a grave disservice was done to our people by our leaders who decided to forgo Tanach in favor of Talmudic study. As important as that is, and I DO understand why this shift occurred, the results have been generations of Talmudically erudite people with next to zero knowledge of the prophets and the writings.

      I have seen some of your writings in the past, BTW. I remember them to be very good. I will do my best, bli-neder, to find the time to look into them some more.

      Kol Tuv!

  10. Concerned Reader says:

    More serious though is that most Jews don’t really know the difference either.

    That is definitely an issue.
    I’m not even Jewish, (was raised Christian) and I have noticed this. The Churches have the same problem. Plain instructions give way to metaphors.

    One of the things I find interesting is that as I learned more about second temple Judaism, and Christian law, it really let me see more of some commonality in practical application. By that I mean, if you remove narrative from the Christian Bible, and even the epistles of Paul, all you are really left with is a manual of discipline for would be Jewish proselytes/God Fearers.

    Its really like Christianity’s early movement fell into a black hole of narrative and interpretation.

    I have listened to Shiurim where someone seems to base their legal opinion on Drash. You also see that phenomenon in the scrolls a lot, (where their midrash is taken as the law from Moses.)

    I also don’t see much of a textual basis for belief in resurrection, but I find that fascinating.

    it really explains an awful lot about how my former faith ended up the way it did. You might say I have a bit of a motr anthropological insight into it now, which is interesting, but also a bit freaky.

  11. cpsoper says:

    Personally I don’t see what all the fuss is about. No doubt the correct reading is ‘like a lion’, but what do lions do to hands and feet? Kiss?? The septuagint and the NT is interpretative, the Tenach does just the same to its own texts.

    • Dina says:

      What do lions do? Lions attack. King David is using a metaphor to describe a situation in which he finds himself best by enemies about to attack him. “For dogs have surrounded me; a band of evildoers has encompassed me, like a lion, [they are at] my hands and feet.” As you can see, “like a lion” fits with the animal motif of enemies in the first part of the verse, “for dogs have surrounded me.” The explanation “a band of evildoers has encompassed me” is right there in the verse.

    • Yosi says:

      Did you ever ask yourself why the lion’s (pun intended) share of proof-texts come from Psalms and Isaiah? The reason is is that they’re so poetic.

      Take a look, for example at Isaiah 38:13 – What does “I made until morning like a lion” mean? That’s what the text says. Why doesn’t anyone have a problem with Isaiah 38:13 but Psalm 22:16 gets turned around and over to make it look Christian?

      The fact is that psalm 22:16 says “like a lion.” Lions restrain, bite, tear, all kinds of things. One of my last Family Feud answers would be “pierced.”

      Oh. and he Septuagint does not say “pierced.” It says “dug.”

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