Psalm 22: “They pierced” and the Septuagint

In “The lion dug the nail into my hand,” I examined the issue of whether the masoretic Hebrew verse 17 of Psalm 22 (verse 16 in the English translation) was the original text in classical times – circa 200 BCE, the period of the Greek Septuagint translation of the Hebrew text. The earliest extent manuscript of the Hebrew Bible, the masoretic text, does not predate the 10th century. The masoretic text added vowels to the text, which made it easier to read for those learning Hebrew.


כִּי סְבָבוּנִי כְּלָבִים עֲדַת מְרֵעִים הִקִּיפוּנִי כָּאֲרִי יָדַי וְרַגְלָֽי׃

“For dogs encircled me, An evil congregation surrounded me; Like a lion my hands and my feet.”

In the Christian Bible, the same verse (verse 16) is translated as:

An evil congregation surrounded me;

They dug (pierce) my hands and my feet.”

The Greek Septuagint translation read the Hebrew word כָּאֲרוּ ka’aru, “they dug,” and not כָּאֲרִי ka’ari, “like a lion.” and thus they translated ka’aru with the Greek word ὤρυξαν oruxsan, “they dug” or “they pierced.”

21:17 ὅτι ἐκύκλωσάν με κύνες πολλοί συναγωγὴ πονηρευομένων περιέσχον με ὤρυξαν χεῖράς μου καὶ πόδας

The question is why would expert Hebrew scholars (70 of them, hence the Septuagint) translate the Hebrew word they understood to be oruxsan, if what they read in the Hebrew text “was like a lion.” If the word in question ended in a YOD כָּאֲרִי they would have translated “like a lion;” but they didn’t do that. The only way Jewish antagonists can get round that one is to claim that the Pentateuch was doctored. And by whom? The Christians? That, of course, is silly, because Christ was only born more than a century later. Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53 are the two bugbears of Judaism. If only they could succeed in laying Jesus to rest in these two texts, they could arguably take a well-deserved rest from their anti-missionary activity. Jesus has indeed entered into His rest (Hebrews 4) but it’s not the sleepy kind of rest. He remains active with his two-edged short, cutting and thrusting; or rather, he has handed the sword over to his disciples to do the cutting and the thrusting. And the sword here is, of course, His Word. Some cut and thrust, others sharpen the sword, and the rare few do all three. I’d like to think that I’m more of a sharpener. But back to the YOD in the masoretic כָּאֲרִי ka’ari of Psalm 22:17.

The difference was whether the original word ended with a VAV or a YOD.” During the 700-year period 400 BCE – 300CE, Hebrew progressively decreased in use. The Jewish scholars of the period, though, retained their expertise in Hebrew. The most ancient translations of the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) is the Greek Koine Septuagint (Koine “folk speech”) and the Latin Vulgate of St Jerome ( “vulgar” latin – vulgaris “folk speech”), which was translated from the Septuagint. The Septuagint was translated in Alexandria between the third and second centuries BCE. As I mentioned, some modern Jewish (and non-Jewish) scholars argue that the Septuagint is inaccurate. What is beyond doubt is that it was widely used by the common man and in the synagogues, which indicates that the Septuagint could not have been flawed; otherwise it would never have been used in the jot and tittle synagogues. When a Jew says jot and tittle, he means it literally. What is the “jot”? It is the YOD י . And the tittle? That’s the little thorny bit at the top of the י.

Now here’s a funny thing. When it came to translating Psalm 22:17, the Septuagint translators – Hebrew scholars Bar NUN – did with their linguistic skills what Joshua (Yehoshua) did with his sword; they liberated the Tanakh and made it accessible to all. But not – on their lives – at the cost of doctoring the text.

Mark Eastman writes:

“When we examine these ancient translations of the Tanakh we find that in each case the word in question is translated from Hebrew into the Greek, Syriac or Latin word equivalent to “pierced.” The ancient rabbis commissioned to translate the Tanakh into the Septuagint and the ancient Targums were apparently convinced that the word in question was indeed “pierced!” The fact that Christian translators (who translated the Hebrew Tanakh into the Latin vulgate) translated the same word as pierced, was not an issue at the time! They were simply following what the rabbis had done hundreds of years previously. However, since the “piercing” of Jesus of Nazareth, the translation of this word has become a major point of controversy. Not only do most contemporary rabbis deny the Messianic application of this verse, some have even stated that Christians fabricated the translation themselves! According to Samuel Levine: “That verse of ‘they pierced my hands and feet,’ which seems to point to Jesus, is a mistranslation, according to all of the classical Jewish scholars, who knew Hebrew perfectly. In fact, the Christians have invented a new word in the process, which is still not in the Hebrew dictionary” Mr. Levine is correct about one thing here. The ancient rabbis knew Hebrew perfectly well. But there is no doubt that the word translated as “pierced” was in their dictionaries because they rendered it that way in the Septuagint and the Targums! Both of these documents were translated some two hundred years before the birth of Jesus. The Hebrew word which translates as “pierced” is the word “karv,” and was certainly the word those ancient scholars translated. Modern Jewish Bibles translate the word in question as “like a lion.” Obviously these are two very different meanings for what should be the same word in the biblical text. So where does this radical difference in rendering come from? The Jewish Publication Society relies on the Massoretic Hebrew text for the translation of their version of the Bible. However, this text is dated to approximately 800-1000 CE The writers of the Septuagint, the Targums and the early Christian Bibles relied on much more ancient texts.”

I have put Eastman’s “karv” in bold, which I explain here. Eastman says: “The Hebrew word which translates as “pierced” is the word “karv.” he is trying to convey that the word ends in a V(av). The Hebrew is pronounced Ka’aru. How do you get a u from the VAV to give ka’aru? The “u” in ka’aru – the English sound “oo” – consists of the letter V(AV) and a dot, as in






The V with the dot gives an “oo” sound.

Mark Eastman asks:

“Was the rejection of Jesus’ Messianic claims by the first century rabbis the motive behind the changing of the text as well as its interpretation? We may never know.”

We may never know, but it does make you think back to those faithful Jewish Septuagint translators, and forward to the modern rabbis who are on a frantic mission  to prevent Christians from lionising the cross.

Here is the conclusion to the best article I’ve read on the “they pierced” controversy” (by Glenn Miller  – “Did the Christians simply invent the “pierced my hands and feet” passage in Psalm 22?):

In the article, one of the important things shown is that the Septuagint translated the whole Tanakh, and existed centuries BCE. As I argued in my article (with Hegg’s admirable help) “they pierced” was the translation of the Hebrew text that was in plain sight before the JEWISH translators eyes. Thus “they pierced” is not merely
JE(sus)WISHful thinking.

Here is the conclusion to Miller’s article:

So, where does this leave us on what the ‘original’ or ‘furthest back’ reading was [OF PSALM 22 – “like a lion,” “they pierced”]?

1. “Like a lion” is rejected for a number of reasons by scholars: makes no sense, MT manuscript evidence against it, all the earliest translations (not interpretive paraphrases) reject it, its highly unusual form (for the ‘like a lion’ expression), the conclusive existence of the verb reading at Qumran, and even ancient rabbinic rejection of the meaning.

2. The textual witnesses line up historically like this:

* The earliest is the LXX, which has “they pierced”
* The next witness is Qumran, which has “they pierced”
* The next witness is Aquila’s first edition, which is best explained as a transposition of letters from “they pierced”
* The next witness is the Peshitta, which has “they pierced”
* The next witnesses are A2/S/J, which have “they tied”, which can be seen as a ‘reasonable’ mis-understanding from “they pierced”
* We don’t get “like a lion” for centuries after these witnesses, and even then there are MT variants representing “they pierced”
* Later Jewish writers (e.g., Rashi) follow the MT (surprise, surprise), but one or two midrashic writers understand this as a verb, instead of “like a lion”

This sequence alone would make a strong case for “they pierced”.

3. Of the remaining two major candidates (i.e., ‘pierced’ and ‘tied’), ‘pierced’ is to be preferred since:

# It occurs in the earliest manuscripts we have (LXX)
# Its root is widely attested, whereas ‘tied’ does not even occur in all of existent Hebrew writing
# It is not a ‘strange’ way to say this–it is not to be rejected for its infrequency
# It provides a plausible basis from which to reconstruct (a) the midrashic/masoretic comments; (b) the MT textual variants; and (c) the Greek , non-LXX variants
# It makes more sense in the immediate context.

Accordingly, I have to conclude that “pierced” is the better reading of the alternatives–under the praxis of textual criticism.


But… (says Miller) my turn to ask a question of priority: why is anyone “arguing” much about this text?

It is not cited or alluded to in the New Testament anywhere, so there is no real ‘theological agenda’ here. [Certainly the biblical scholar and Church Father Jerome saw no problem with this being other than ‘pierced’.]

The ‘pierced’ quotations in the NT are from the Zechariah passage, NOT from this one. Psalm 22 is cited/alluded to a couple of times as messianic (of course), but not this verse. In fact, the strongest argument I can find against the ‘pierced’ understanding above is that it is NOT MENTIONED in the NT Passion Narratives (although it might be superfluous after Zechariah, which is a stronger messianic passage for the point of the New Testament). This question, accordingly, is a textual problem–not a theological one.


Leon  at the RoshPinaproject makes the following point out about the controversy: “And heck this doesn’t worry me anyway, because its not a verse ever referred to in the New Covenant.” Seems right.

Addendum 26 January 2018.

I have added this graphic in response to Alex’s comment:

Screenshot_2019-01-25 The Psalm 22 16 Controversy New Evidence from the Dead Sea Scrolls - viewcontent cgi(1).png


77 thoughts on “Psalm 22: “They pierced” and the Septuagint

  1. Pingback: Separation of Church and State, a friendly reminder - Page 8
  2. I am a Christian with a strong belief that everything about Jesus Christ must be rooted in the words and prophecies of the Tanakh. With more Muslims and atheists questioning the Christian faith around the world, it is more important than ever for Christians to be fully grounded in the integrity of the scriptures of Judaism. Of course, we cannot expect all Jews to interpret the text in the same way as Christians do, but when the Christians are not at fault for a particular style of translation or reading, it is Jews like your good self who make us proud to be friends and, if you may bear with me for saying so, “co-heirs” of the blessings of father Abraham with the Jewish people, because you retain your Jewish beliefs without accusing the Christians of twisting the word of God. Thank you!!

  3. Yes. I am in harmony with everything you say. However, perhaps the 22nd psalm was alluded to in the new testament, obliquely. When Jesus cried out “Eli Eli….” on the cross, I feel he was telling the onlookers he was fulfilling the words of the psalm. Just a thought.

  4. Thank you Marjorie; I should have mentioned that. Jesus was, of course, reciting Psalm 22 on the cross. The ignorant say that Jesus was complaining to God, but if one reads the whole psalm – context (is king) – we get a right understanding of “Eli, Eli…”

  5. First and foremost the entire kaaru point is pointless. The yod and vav were interchangeable back then. Watch this video:

    2nd of all the Targum Yonatan translates the phrase as ” like a lion.” The Targum Yonatan is older than the LXX and is authentically Jewish.

    Finally the “Septuagint” of today is not THE Septuagint. It is a text that was under Christian stewardship and it is not, outside of the 1st 5 books) considered a reliable translation. It’s primary use is for linguistics and not serious theology. Watch this video:

    Nice try though. G-d Bless!

      • You are very welcome. Regards to your brother.

        Now here’s the $64000 question. Since the “kaaru” that is written in 5/6 HevPsa is not some new or questionable word rather the result of scribal practice will you change your editorial accordingly?

        The problem is this, there is so much information that we have to process that it is often very convenient for us to let others think for us. This is true whether it be our Rabbi or Dr. Michael Brown or CNN or whomever. The problems start when we eventually find the time to test the knowledge that we have accepted as true, due to the “Rabbi” or “Dr.” or “Professor” title, and we discover that either they have been dishonest or that their scholarship is lacking.

        Now that you know that the entire “Kaaru” argument is either bad scholarship, or worse, intentionally misleading, will you make corrections, admit to the mistake, and, most importantly, come to understand that you have been given bad information by people who should know better?

        G-d Bless!


          • There is actually no doubt that the view that I present (See Professors E. Tov and Y. Yadin for starters) is correct regarding the scribal techniques. There is no room for argument on that point. I would like to see all of those who present the ka’aru = pierced argument, on one side, and those who present the “it’s a mistake” argument, on the other, come to terms with both what is written and the quality of the scholarship they’ve been presenting.

            G-d bless!

  6. There are several mistakes in the article:

    1) There is no such a word in Hebrew as ‘ka-aru’ (I myself am a Hebrew speaker, familiar with both spoken and literary Hebrew).
    The Hebrew word for digging is ‘li-kh-rot’ and in past tense – ‘ka-ru’, not ‘ka-a-ru’.
    Therefore, even if the meaning was: They dug my hands and feet makes no sense.
    In Psalms 40:7 it says:
    “You gave me to understand that You do not desire sacrifice and meal offering; You do not ask for burnt offering and sin offering.”
    Now, the Hebrew word phrase there is אָ֭זְנַיִם כָּרִ֣יתָ לִּ֑י- ‘oz-na-yim ka-ri-ta li’ and in literal sense: You have dug ears to me (or: You have dug my ears) but it makes no sense at all to translate it that way.

    2) Verses 21-22 state:
    Save my life from the sword, my precious life from the clutches of a dog.
    Deliver me from a lion’s mouth; from the horns of wild oxen rescue me.

    So, it actually does make sense that the previous verse (17) states ‘lion’.
    Now, there is in the MT a division in the verse, using ‘atna-kh’ or ‘at-na-kh-ta’ (which is a form of an ancient comma, used by the Mosoretes) and if you put this ‘atnakh’ after the Hebrew word ‘ka-ari’, the meaning can be:
    ‘For dogs have surrounded me; a pack of evil ones closes in on me like a lion, my hands and feet.’
    Now, the meaning in that case would be: Just like a lion that encircles its prey, before attacking it, the same did king David’s enemies, trying to attack him.
    It’s a poetic form to express a difficult situation of suffering, it shouldn’t be understood literally, since dogs didn’t really surround king David, but his enemies were called dogs, in a humiliating manner.
    By the way, if you look at Iben- Ezra’s commentary on Psalms 22:17, he states:
    “…וטעם כארי דבק עם הקיפוני שהקיפו כאריה…”
    Translation: And the sense (or reason) that the word ‘ka-ari’ is connected to ‘hi-ki-fu-ni’ (they’ve surrounded me) [is as if states that] ‘they have surrounded [him] like a lion…”
    Here is the link:

    So that explanation and restatement isn’t actually my own invention.

      • I am sorry, but the picture of the old manuscripts proves nothing.
        It’s a mistake to say that ‘ka-a-ru’ = they’ve pierced.
        If you take a time to search for such a word in ancient Hebrew as ‘ka-a-ru’, you’ll find zero results.
        Show me even one place in the whole OT where there’s such a word as ‘ka-a-ru’.
        In the OT, Psalm 22 says simple: Like a lion, [they are at] my hands and feet [surrounding them].
        I won’t start repeating my previous response, but the point is clear: You folks just don’t know Hebrew and lie to non Hebrew speakers so that they’ll believe you.
        Be ashamed!

        • As a Hebrew reader, I know it does not appear in the Hebrew text we have today. The point is that the Septuagint translaters ranslated the Hebrew text they had as “they pierced.” This was because their Hebrew text had a vav instead of a yod.

          • Excuse me, but when I asked to show me a Hebrew word in the OT where ‘kaaru’ means ‘pierced’ – I meant the Old Hebrew, not the modern, of course.
            You know, it’s funny how Christians try to play with verses for their own purposes.
            Let’s take a look at the Aramaic Targum of Psalms 22:
            “מְטוּל דְאַחֲזַרוּ עֲלָי רַשִׁיעֵי דִמְתִילִין לְכַלְבַיָא סַגִיעִין כְּנִישַׁת מַבְאִישִׁין אַקְפוּנִי נָכְתִין הֵיךְ כְּאַרְיָא אַיְדַי וְרִגְלָי:”
            Translation: Because the wicked have surrounded me, who are like many dogs; a gathering of evildoers has hemmed me in, biting my hands and feet like a lion.

            As you see, by yourself, the words ‘they’ve pierced’ are not there.
            I am sorry, but if you choose only to rely on the LXX in order to prove NT claims, whereas your daily bible reading is based upon the MT, not the LXX – that’s dishonesty.
            You should be a loyal follower of the LXX and read even the non canonical books as well.

            Come on, where is your honesty?

              • That is incorrect! There are many vav/yod switches in the original Hebrew and they make up a large part of what we call kri/ktiv, meaning that it’s read one way while being written another. Now you are drawing a conclusion from 1 parchment which, as I have demonstrated, has another 3 cases where a final vav is used instead of a final yod. I also posted a link to an article which clearly shows a 2100 year old engraving of Jerusalem written Verushalaim. Take a few minutes to look at my video (again) to see how often this occurs in the Great Psalm Scroll. Are you now saying that all of those occurrences are mistakes? This is simply scribal practice of the day and nothing more!

                G-d Bless and here’s another link to my video on the subject.


                • With regard to ka’aru(v) in the dead sea scrolls, if the Jewish translators of the Hebrew into Greek (the Septuagint) translated “pierced,” why did they do that if they knew it was ka’ari (like a lion)?

                  • Because they weren’t Jews. The Septuagint of today is at best a corruption and at worst a Christian document. It’s primary use is linguistic and is not considered an authorotative authentic translation. Look, Origen had 4 different and conflicting translations that he tried to unify in the Hexipla. Bottom line, it’s not a Jewish book. Finally, as it post-dates the NT the reason that it is congruent with the NT is because it is quoting the NT and not vice-versa. I recommend that you don’t trust what I say, rather look this stuff up yourself. The best way to learn.

                    G-d bless!


                  • Again, you seem to ignore what I’ve already mentioned – the ancient Nahal Hever scroll reads “They’ve (something) her hands.
                    It doesn’t fit Jesus, since he was a male.
                    Won’t you admit, at least, that you were mistaken?

                • This means that the 70 Hebrew Scholars who translated “pierced” got it all wrong? Usually, it’s 7(0) Jews, (7(0) opinions. (Of course, if they had translated after the crucifixion of the Christ, there wouldn’t have been one of them who would have translated “pierced.”

                  • No. That is, once again, incorrect. The only claim of authentic Jewish authorship from the ancient world is with regards to the 1st 5 books of the Tanach and even that claim, the claim of the 70 elders, is more likely than not, legend, certainly the way it is typically presented.

                    With that said, 1st century copies of the 12 prophets and Esther (if I remember correctly) were found at Nahal Hever (again, if I remember correctly) but those copies are not what we call the LXX. Indeed, there is no evidence of a Jewish translation to Greek of psalms. The Greek translations in our possession, outside of the 1st 5 books of the Tanach, are mediocre translations at best. Some are simply bad and Isaiah, in particular, is a train-wreck.

                    Finally, I seriously recommend that you look into the history of all of this stuff.

                    G-d Bless!


              • You know, when you say such things, it makes me think that Christians are really miserable people.
                They don’t have any hope, meaning that G-d left them alone with only translations, having NOT EVEN ONE reliable source written in ancient manuscripts.

                You made here 2 mistakes:

                1) You assume that the MT is wrong.
                I’m sorry, but what is the proof to your statement that the MT is inferior?
                2) If you look at pictures of the Nahal Hever scroll, it says there: כארו ידיה
                Which means: They’ve pierced her hands, not his.
                Her hands? Is the Messiah a female, or what?

                Come on, do you really rely upon a torn piece of scroll found somewhere?
                It’s interesting how you, as a Christian, generally DO ACCEPT the MT as GOOD,
                but when it comes to theology – everything that doesn’t fit your belief, you blame the MT.
                As I’ve demonstrated above, the ancient Aramaic Targum says ‘lion’, the commentators also explained it thus,
                without even referring to Christians (In some cases Jewish commentators do mention Christian theologies, but
                not in that particular Psalm 22).

                You really should stop writing such false claims and lies.
                People here, before me, already commented on the subject, but you keep repeating yourself,
                knowing there are good answers to your statements.

              • bography,

                You are messing up everything.
                I explained, earlier, that the Hebrew doesn’t say “pierced”.
                I said that, king David, suffering from his enemies, describes his pain
                in Psalms, as enemies, sorrounding his hands and feet as a lion,
                willing to attack him.
                The possible reason, why hands and feet are mentioned is because they are the motor defensive
                parts of body.
                If you paralize them, you win.

                I also mentioned, earlier, that the same piece of scroll, found in Nahal Hever, that says “Kaaru”
                also says “ya-de-ya-h”, which is “her hands”.
                Unfortunately, both you and the post author ignored that important piece of information.
                Was Jesus a woman?
                So, if the words are not that “accurate”, don’t use it as evidence at all, be honest with yourself.

                Also, I mentioned earlier that the word “ka-a-ru” does not exist in Hebrew, at all.
                It doesn’t exist in the whole bible EVEN ONCE!
                Therefore, even if we’ll agree with you, that such a word exists, how can you understand its meaning,
                if there are no other places with the exact word?
                Make a concordance, you won’t find “kaaru” anywhere in the bible, except in your Christian mistranslation of Psalm 22.
                However, other places in the bible, where “ka-a-ri” (like a lion) appears, both in Jewish and Christian translations, always appears as “lion”.

                • The lion would pierce the skin but probably not your hands/arms and feet/legs.

                  But since what is written is כארי, like a lion, you have to change what is written in the Biblical text.

                  Now a question for you. If someone changes the Biblical text to fit their theology and persecutes, for nearly 2000 years, those who insist on adhering to what the text actually says would you call that “tearing the Bible,” “shredding the Bible,” or, perhaps “piercing the Bible?”

                  Shabbat Shalom

              • Let’s be honest. One of the last things you would think that a lion would do to one’s hands and feet is to “pierce” them. Tear, bite, slash, ensnare, etc. “Pierced would be way down on anyone’s list.

                • The argument hangs on the relationship between the Septuagint, the Masoretic and the Dead Sea Scrolls. You say the MT is totally reliable, whereas the Septuagint used by the early Christians is an aberration of the original Hebrew. You use the Dead Sea scrolls to buttress your view. It is possible, contrary to the Jewish view, that rabbis fiddled with the Hebrew in order, for example, to make Melchisedec (New Testament), the same as Shem. See minute 29 ff of this video

                  • The “Rabbis” did no such fiddling.

                    The scrolls clearly say “like a lion” as I clearly demonstrat in my video on the subject (which I believe you have seen.)

                    The Septuagint, or more accurately the LXX POST-DATES the NT and was under Christian stewardship so if anyone was “fiddling ” with the text it was not a Jew.

                    Why not admit that Christians changed this text just like they changed many others (Isaiah 7:14, Psalm 2:12, etc.) instead of slandering our great and Holy Sages? This is clearly a reflective accusation!

                    • Re Psalm 2:12. “נשׁקו – “Kiss” is the literal translation (Brown-Driver-Briggs’ Hebrew Definitions) and “do homage” is a paraphrase of “kiss”. There’s much more to say on the verse about “son.” Let say “Do homage in purity,” is a possibility, This is far from saying that “Kiss the son” is wrong. You accuse Christians of doing anything to buttress their view. Jews do likewise. For example, Isaiah 53 – “He was pierced for our transgressions” to many Jews means that Jews were pierced for Gentile transgressions.

                    • Isaiah 53:5 says no such thing. That is, once again, a mis-translation. The Hebrew word מחולל simply does not mean “pierced.” It just doesn’t. There are several possible translations but in this case it means something like pained, hurt, made ill, even killed (as in a casualty) etc. So how do we know what it means here? Isaiah 52/53/54 has a chiasm and the word מחולל in verse 5 mirrors the word החלי, He (G-d) made him ill, in verse 10. Check out my video on the subject.

                    • 1st of all it does not mean “bore.” It could mean empty as in חלל BUT Isaiah, in his poetic style defined the word for us with the parallelism in verse 10.

                      Regarding the supposedly Jewish interpretation you stated, it is the 1st time I have ever heard of it and I have read countless Jewish interpretations. Still, it is commentary and we don’t accept commentary or midrash in place of the pshat, the simple meaning of what is written. If we did that we’d become as variegated as Christianity!

                      The real issue, my brother, is that YOU, as a Jew, chose Christian manipulations of G-d’s word over G-d’s word.

                      G-d Bless!

                    • וְהוּא מְחֹלָל – He was wounded (Two Jewish Bibles – Mechon Mamre and Israel Bible translations).

                      “The root חלל (halal I) has to do with to pierce or bore through; the primary verb חלל (halal) describes the fatally wounding of persons (Psalm 109:22, Proverbs 26:10, Ezekiel 28:9). In Isaiah 53:5 this verb is famously applied to the Suffering Servant, whereas Isaiah uses the same verb to describe YHWH’s piercing of Rahab just two chapters prior, in Isaiah 51:9 (also see Job 26:13). This verb’s derivatives are: The masculine noun חלל (halal), meaning fatally pierced (Job 24:12, Psalm 69:26, Jeremiah 51:52).”


                      Despite strong objections from conservative Christian apologists, the prevailing rabbinic interpretation of Isaiah 53 ascribes the “servant” to the nation of Israel who silently endured unimaginable suffering at the hands of its gentile oppressors. The speakers, in this most-debated chapter, are the stunned kings of nations who will bear witness to the messianic age and the final vindication of the Jewish people following their long and bitter exile. “Who would have believed our report?,” the astonished and contrite world leaders wonder aloud in dazed bewilderment (53:1).
                      Midrash Rabbah (Numbers XXIII.2), Zohar (Genesis & Leviticus), Talmud (Brochos 5a), Rashi, Joseph Kara, Ibn Ezra, Joseph Kimchi, David Kimchi, Nachmanadies, Abarbinbanel, et all

                    • Sorry to disappoint you but: * Mechon Mamre uses the JPS 1917 which is basically the KJV with some fixes. It’s a terrible translation. I am unfamiliar with the Israel Bible so I can’t comment on it . * We are dealing with translations which, as I said, we don’t need to do because ISAIAH shows that, in this case, מחולל does not mean to kill/make empty or any of the other possible meanings for that word. The chiasm uses the same root in 2 different verses in 53. They parallel each other and have the same basic meaning (Did you watch my video?) * You are arguing about commentary and translations while I am looking at the original which always takes precedence. * There is one word for pierced in Hebrew and that is רצ”ע. Translating מחולל as “pierced” to make it look Jesus-like is simply dishonest.

                      Regarding the read of Isaiah 53. We could continue in this line or, if you like, we could learn the passage together, properly, so that you can see what it really says.

                      If that is not enough I ask you to read Isaiah 53’s sister chapter, Isaiah 42, a chapter which has very clear parallelisms with it. If you can’t read Hebrew I recommend using a reasonable Jewish translation such as the one at If you don’t want to look at a Jewish translation then use whatever Christian one that you choose. Anyway, I recommend that you watch my video on parallelisms on interwoven themes in the 1st consolation song (chapters 40-55) to see how chapter 53 is an integral part of these chapters, most of which talk about Israel’s redemption.

                      Looking forward to hearing from you. You have my private email.

                      G-d Bless!


                    • You dpnt know about the Israel Bible. So now what to do? Wounded, pierced, pained aree fine with me. Here is the with Rashi’s commentary.
                      What about my point that the speaker in Isaiah 53 is a gentile.

                    • If you send me a link or a wiki to the Israel Bible I would be happy to look at it. Please note that I am using the Hebrew version and not a translation (which I consider to be commentary.)
                      Regarding the speaker, of course the speaker is a gentile or more accurately the kings and leaders of the gentile nations when they see Israel’s redemption.
                      To be honest Isaiah 53 really fits our times better than anything. It begins with the gentile world’s response to the Holocaust and continues through today, eventually ending (very, very soon, G-d willing!) with the complete and final redemption. Think about it.

                    • The gentile nations are speaking their subjective truth. For example, as I see the Jewish victims of the Holocaust as the suffering servant in this passage I will give an example from there. The gentile nations would say that the Jews went like sheep to the slaughter, yet what about the the partisans and those who escaped slaughter? The statements made by the gentile nations as the beginning of chapter 53 are not all inclusive but they are true. Does that answer your question?
                      G-d Bless!

                    • “Subjective” truth. I thought truth was a correspondence between thought and reality. “Your truth, my truth,” as postmodernists and most modern college students like to say, is naturally subjective – “I feel, you feel.” And that is what you say the LORD asked Isaiah to reveal? Furthermore, if you can say the chapter is about – you would say 6 million Jews being killed during WW2 mostly by German Gentiles – am I allowed to disagree and say Isaiah 53 is about the 40-60 million Russian Christians being killed mostly by Jews (the bulk of the Communist Politburo.

                    • Well, I would like to know how you would phrase it. I did wrestle over what word to use. No. I am not turning Isaiah into some modern relativist. Let me show you the problem I usually encounter and then you will see why I phrased my answer as I did. Were I to answer your original question “Yes, the gentiles were speaking the truth” then the typical response is “well the Jews aren’t blameless, therefore this passage cannot refer to them. At that point I would have to tediously explain what I did about them looking at the overall picture from their standpoint. They recognize that they sinned gravely against the servant and they are portraying him as totally innocent. I do see now that no matter how I phrase things we end up having to go through the tediousness of this explanation. I hope that I have made myself clear.

                  • Simply bizarre. Repeat slowly after me WE-HAVE-THE-DEAD-SEA-SCROLLS. They line up with thr Masoretic text something like 99% of the time. We also have other texts like those from Masada and Nachal Hever which line up 100% with the Masoretic.

                    The LXX came after, AFTER, the NT.

                    I know that you really want psalm 22 to say “pierced ” but it doesn’t and no amount of finagling, wheedling, cajoling, and slandering the Jews is going to change that.

                    Isn’t it time you gave your own people a chance?

                    G-d Bless.


                    • No. The LXX is a later composition. Check out my video on the Septuagint.

                      Only the 1st 5 books were that early and it is ONLY those books that are considered good translations. Isaiah is a mess. Just look at the introduction to your English translation. It probably states just that. Origen grappled with 4 different Greek versions trying to come up with something authoritative. Do the research my friend but do REAL research. Don’t look at Christians apologetics. I do the same with my Hebrew research. Are we looking for truth or excuses?
                      G-d bless!

                    • Well done, Yosi.
                      Keep doing the good work, G-d’s truth will be revealed soon to the world, and they’ll be very sorry
                      for treating Jews in such a despicable way.

                    • Why do you single out Jews for special treatment.? Christ is no respecter of persons. In fact, the kingdom, says Christ , was taken away from the Jews and given to the “world.” The Jews, like everyone else is damned unless God has mercy on them.

                    • bography,

                      A simple question to you: If the LXX is a reliable translation of Hebrew scrolls,
                      how is it that the canon of LXX is SO DIFFERENT than the MT canon?
                      Why do Christians use the MT canon for OT and not the LXX canon?
                      Christians should really trust ALL NON CANONICAL books, as the word of G-d, just
                      as the Catholic and Greek churches do, shouldn’t they?

                    • An excellent point Alex. There are so many cases where Christians trust the Masoretic text 100%. They only say it’s flawed is when it contradicts THEIR understanding. That basically means is that they trust the Masoretic text more than 99% of the time.

                    • Oh boy… the criss was not a Christian symbol until Constatine at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge. It is a symbol of war. It is of Roman origin.

                      Bottom line though is that the facts really do matter. A truly “daring Jew” would never ignore them. How about giving your heritage a fighting chance?

                    • Constantine’s cross was a banner. “The “cross of Christ” quoted in the Bible is a connotaion of something profound, which is the crux of the Gospel.. My heritage without the crux is but filthy rags.

              • Shalom Brother!

                When you asked: “Would you agree that if a lion bit my hand and feet, he pierced them? Just asking.”

                That put a big SMILE on my face, thanks! : )
                (I was going to say something very similar but not as elegant!)

                Let me get this right, the Septuagint was translated BEFORE the crucifixion of Christ and the beginning of Christianity, and they think that quibbling over the “literal” extent versus the figurative prophecy in v16 somehow negates Christ’s fulfillment of v16? Have they not seen verse17 and verse18 which give quite a bolstering affirmation to entire passage?
                Did they also miss Psalm 22:12-15?
                If that’s not enough, the entire v1-18 perfectly sets up the prophetic narrative and shows the progression of the events.

                On a related note, where would I find a good collection of Rabbinical teachings on ISAIAH 53, “BEFORE” Jesus’ ministry?


          • The Septuagint of today is not a reliable translation. It was under Christian auspices and it post-dates the NT. It fits the NT because it quotes the NT, not the other way around.

          • Just as a reminder, any Jew reading from that parchment would know that the final letter, what appears to be a yod, is actually a vav. There are 3 more (!) final vavs instead of yods in that fragment. Here is an article about the oldest inscription of Jerusalem ever found and what is written is Jerusalem with a vav instead of a yod מורושלים instead of מירושלים ie. From Verusalem. I think that time has long passed to give up on that fragment. To continue using it is dishonest.

            G-d Bless.


      • Something went wrong with the “Reply” button.
        I can’t reply to “bography”, it always directs my replies to Yosi, but anyway, this is a reply to bography:
        Yes, I am a Jew, and I use then hyphen because I don’t want to type the name of the holy One in vain.
        I mean, posts are often deleted, and therefore, I don’t want G-d’s name to be deleted here.
        Yosi, I agree with you.
        Christians, on a daily basis, DO USE MT translation and NOT LXX.
        Why is that?
        Why don’t Christians, as a whole, use the LXX around the world?
        It’s because NOT ALL CHRISTIANS consider the LXX to be SACRED.
        bography, you still have to answer my questions: Why don’t you use LXX as your daily bible?
        It does contain some EXTRA books which are not found in the MT.

        • I think the problem is deeper. Two questions. 1 ) How do you understand Is 6: 9,10? 2) Why were you (Jews) driven from your land 2000 years ago?

          • God has rejected the majority of his people and destroyed swathes of them from Moses onwards. Only a remnant will remain and be saved from damnation by the Messiah they reject whos leaders had him tortured and crucified. The State of Israel is a rogue entity run by Talmudists.

            1. Isaiah 6:9

            Here is the verse in context. It means what it says. God has decided that he will redeem some and damn the rest. All God’s decisions, based on his eternal omniscience, are from eternity, which are played out in time – God does not change his mind, even if it seems he does so. There are those who are ever interested in religious things and love the taste of heavenly things, but are radically corrupt at heart – as are all born from Adam. Those tears and pleas issue from this corruption. This verse is also quoted in the NT – Matthew 4:12. In the Isaiah context, God decides to devastate “Israel” where only a small remnant will remain. This remnant refers to the “all” in “all Israel will be saved” (Romans 11).

            9 He said, “Go and tell this people:
            “‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding;
                be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’
            10 Make the heart of this people calloused;
                make their ears dull
                and close their eyes.[a]
            Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
                hear with their ears,
                understand with their hearts,
            and turn and be healed.”
            11 Then I said, “For how long, Lord?”
            And he answered:
            “Until the cities lie ruined
                and without inhabitant,
            until the houses are left deserted
                and the fields ruined and ravaged,
            12 until the Lord has sent everyone far away
                and the land is utterly forsaken.
            13 And though a tenth remains in the land,
                it will again be laid waste.
            But as the terebinth and oak
                leave stumps when they are cut down,
                so the holy seed will be the stump in the land.”

            2. Isaiah 6:2 in context

            God punishes the Israelites with the rod of his anger, Assyria, and then punishes Assyria, his instrument of judgment against the Israelites. As with Joseph’s captivity, God meant it for good, man meant it for bad. In the NT, we have a similar thread with the crucifixion of Jesus. “This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross” Acts 2:23. So, God plans men to do moral evil, but they are responsible for the evil they do. Most who say they believe the Tanach and the NT would reject that God ordains/decrees evil and can still be called good. They should stop saying they are believers.

            1.Woe to those who make unjust laws,
            to those who issue oppressive decrees,
            2 to deprive the poor of their rights
            and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people,
            making widows their prey
            and robbing the fatherless.
            3 What will you do on the day of reckoning,
            when disaster comes from afar?
            To whom will you run for help?
            Where will you leave your riches?
            4 Nothing will remain but to cringe among the captives
            or fall among the slain.

            Yet for all this, his anger is not turned away,
            his hand is still upraised.

            God’s Judgment on Assyria
            5 “Woe to the Assyrian, the rod of my anger,
            in whose hand is the club of my wrath!
            6 I send him against a godless nation,
            I dispatch him against a people who anger me,
            to seize loot and snatch plunder,
            and to trample them down like mud in the streets.
            7 But this is not what he intends,
            this is not what he has in mind;
            his purpose is to destroy,
            to put an end to many nations.
            8 ‘Are not my commanders all kings?’ he says.
            9 ‘Has not Kalno fared like Carchemish?
            Is not Hamath like Arpad,
            and Samaria like Damascus?
            10 As my hand seized the kingdoms of the idols,
            kingdoms whose images excelled those of Jerusalem and Samaria—
            11 shall I not deal with Jerusalem and her images
            as I dealt with Samaria and her idols?’”

            12 When the Lord has finished all his work against Mount Zion and Jerusalem, he will say, “I will punish the king of Assyria for the willful pride of his heart and the haughty look in his eyes

            • Once again I fail to see the connection between this and psalm 22.

              Of course G-d punishes Israel but doesn’t G-d punish other nations as well? Of course! Do you think for a moment that G-d will let the Christian off the hook for what he has done to Israel any less than what Egypt or Babylon did to Israel? For Egypt it was 210 years. For Babylon 70. For the Christian nearly 2000 years of persecution.

              And with all of our problems G-d will never forget us. Again, Isaiah 49:14 and 15: And Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me, and the Lord has forgotten me.”

              Shall a woman forget her sucking child, from having mercy on the child of her womb? These too shall forget, but I will not forget you.

              The most amazing thing about all of this is that you live at a time where you see with your own eyes how G-d’s promises to the Jewish people, just as as Isaiah prophesied, are being fulfilled, yet you fail to make the connection… WOW…

          • To salanes,

            1) Literally – Because of our sins we receive punishment not to understand G-d’s words.
            2) Because of our sins, which bring to lack of knowledge and wisdom (Isaiah 5:13).

            How is it connected to Psalm 22?

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