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They have Pierced My Hands and My Feet


They have Pierced My Hands and My Feet


James Scott Trimm

In a recent article I discussed "How the Anti-Missionaries Misrepresent the Text". In this article I will give a specific example. Psalm 22 is an amazingly prophetic Psalm which describes the crucifixion of Yeshua in great detail.

In Matt. 27:46 = Mk. 15:34 Yeshua recites Ps. 22:2(1) from the gallows. Matt. 27:39 alludes to Ps. 22:8(7) about on lookers shaking their heads at him. In Matt. 27:43 the people use the same phase as those in Ps. 22:9(8) (see also Luke 23:35) Luke 23:34 and John 19:24 (as well as the Hebrew text of Matt. 27:35) allude to Ps. 22:19(18) about the casting of lots to divide his clothes, and Hebrews 2:12 also quotes Ps. 22:23(22) as a reference to Yeshua as the Messiah.

It is not just the so-called NT that understand Psalm 22 as propheticly speaking of Messiah, the concept is also to be found in Midrash Pesikta Rabbati which applies verses from Psalm 22 to the Messiah ben Yosef, the Suffering Messiah also known as "Ephraim":

During the seven-year period preceding the coming of the son of David, iron beams will be brought low and loaded upon his neck until the Messiah's body is bent low. Then he will cry and weep, and his voice will rise to the very height of heaven, and he will say to God: Master of the universe, how much can my strength endure? How much can my spirit endure? How much my breath before it ceases? How much can my limbs suffer? Am I not flesh and blood?
It was because of the ordeal of the son of David that David wept, saying My strength is dried up like a potsherd (Ps. 22:16). During the ordeal of the son of David, the Holy One, blessed be He, will say to him: Ephraim, My true Messiah, long ago, ever since the six days of creation, thou didst take this ordeal upon thyself. At this moment, thy pain is like my pain . . .
At these words, the Messiah will reply: Now I am reconciled. The servant is content to be like his Master.
(Pesikta Rabbati, Piska 36.2, translated by William G. Braude, Yale University Press, pg. 680-681)

It is taught, moreover, that in the month of Nisan the Patriarchs will arise and say to the Messiah: Ephraim, our true Messiah, even though we are thy forbears, thou art greater that we because thou didst suffer for the iniquities of our children, and terrible ordeals befell thee . . . for the sake of Israel thou didst become a laughingstock and a derision among the nations of the earth; and didst sit in darkness, in thick darkness, and thine eyes saw no light, and thy skin cleaved to thy bones, and thy body was as dry as a piece of wood; and thine eyes grew dim from fasting, and thy strength was dried up like a potsherd - all these afflictions on account of the iniquities of our children . . .
(Pesikta Rabbati 37.1, translated by William G. Braude, Yale University Press, pg. 685-686)

Ephraim is a darling son to Me . . . My heart yearneth for him, in mercy I will have mercy upon him, saith the Lord (Jer. 31:20). Why does the verse speak twice of mercy: In mercy I will have mercy upon him? One mercy refers to the time when he will be shut up in prison, a time when the nations of the world will gnash their teeth at him every day, wink their eyes at one another in derision of him, nod their heads at him in contempt, open wide their lips to guffaw, as is said All they that see me laugh me to scorn; they shoot out the lip, they shake the head (Ps. 22:8); My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my throat; and thou layest me in the dust of death (Ps. 22:16). Moreover, they will roar over him like lions, as is said They open wide their mouth against me, as a ravening and roaring lion. I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is become like wax; it is melted in mine inmost parts (Ps. 22:14-15).
(Pesikta Rabbati 37.1, translated by William G. Braude, Yale University Press, pg. 686-687)

Perhaps the most amazingly prophetic verse of Psalm 22 is:

For dogs have encompassed me;
a company of evildoers have enclosed me:
they have pierced my hands and my feet.
(Ps. 22:17 (16))

In his series Let's Get Biblical" Tovia Singer has made the claim that Christians changed Ps. 22:16 (17) to read "they have pierced" rather than "like a lion".

Now let us seek the TRUTH on this matter:

In the Hebrew the difference between these two readings is only one letter.

KARU (כארו) "They have pierced"
(כאר means "pierced" and the -U (ו) means "they")

KARI (כארי) "Like a lion"
(K- (כ) means "like" and ARI (ארי) means "lion")

The difference between these two words is between a VAV (ו)  and a YOD ( י). The misreading of a VAV for a YUD or a YUD for a VAV is a frequent scribal error in Hebrew and Aramaic manuscripts. A VAV is simply a YUD with a long tail. This scribal error is clearly not an intentional change but a common scribal error.

Now let us determine which was the original reading.

Now if we look up this passage in the BHS (Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia). Here we find a footnote that reads:

"pc Mss Edd כארו, 2 Mss Edd כרו cf G(S)..."

To translate this note into lay terms it says:

"A few manuscripts read KARU (כארו) and two manuscripts read KARU (כרו) and the Greek Septuagint has [pierced]"

In other words while MOST Masoretic Text manuscripts read KARI ("like a lion") SEVERAL read "they have pierced" (two possible spellings) as does the Greek Septuagint.

The Greek Septuagint is a Greek translation of the Tanak that was completed by about 200 to 160 BCE.

The Peshitta Aramaic Tanak also has "they have pierced" in this passage. According to the Encyclopedia Judaica article on "Bible" The Peshitta Aramaic was produced by Jews for Assyrian and Syrian converts to Judaism in the first century BCE.

Now lets look at the oldest extant Hebrew copy of this Psalm which was found among the Dead Sea Scrolls. If we look in THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS BIBLE under Psalm 22 on pages 518-519 we read:

"They have pierced my hands and my feet."

We are directed to footnote 41 which says:

"5/6HevPs MT(mss) LXX. Like a lion are MT."

In layman's terms this note means:

In the Dead Sea Scroll manuscript designated "5/6HevPs", some Masoretic Text manuscripts and the Septuagint the reading is "they have pierced" while most Masoretic Text manuscripts read "like a lion are".

A header above this section of Psalm 22 reads:

"Psalm 22 is a favorite among Christians since it is often linked in the New Testament with the suffering and death of Jesus. A well-known and controversial reading is found in verse 16, where the Masoretic Text reads "Like a lion are my hands and feet," whereas the Septuagint has "They have pierced my hands and feet." Among the scrolls the reading in question is found only in the Psalms scroll found at Nahal Hever (abreviated 5/6HevPs), which reads "They have
pierced my hands and my feet"!"

Moreover the grammar does not work for "like a lion" since the phrase would lake a verb. Many insert additional words to MAKE the text read "Like a lion [they are at] my hands and my feet". The understood verb of being does not work here because "Like a lion are my hand and my feet" makes about as much sense as "Like a pizza are my hands and my feet".

OK lets review the facts:

1. Only the Masoretic Text (which originated in the 9th Century CE) has "like a lion" and even then some copies have "they have pierced".

2. ALL other versions INCLUDING the Greek Septuagint and Aramaic Peshitta Tanak read "they have pierced".

3. The error itself is an accidental scribal error and NOT an intentional change.

4. By far the OLDEST Hebrew copy of the Psalm from the Dead Sea Scrolls reads "they have pierced"

5. The reading "like a lion" does not fit the grammar.

6. Several copies and versions from BEFORE the life of Yeshua have "they have pierced" and NO copy or version prior to the 9th century CE has "like a lion."

Tovia Singer's claims, once again, are without merit. The reading "they have pierced" existed BEFORE Christianity existed, the scribal error in question was clearly NOT intentional and the textual evidence points STRONGLY to "they have pierced" as the original reading.

The truth is that Psalm 22 is a prophecy of the suffering of Messiah and verse 17(16) speaks specifically of the crucifixion of Messiah, having his hands and his feet pierced, pointing clearly to Yeshua as having fulfilled this amazingly clear prophecy.

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Views: 181

Comment by Ken Morrison on August 7, 2016 at 11:38pm

Your textual arguments seem very solid. I have made a small donation even though I am just a new member and despite my issue with a part of one of the statements of faith.

Perhaps James Trimm, could you explain or point me to an existing blog entry explaining why you believe that immediately after the Second Coming the reign of the people of YHWH under the kingship of Y'SHUA will be on earth rather than in Heaven? The Old Testament is clear that the earth will lay desolate and the wicked be as stubble and Revelation says the rest of the dead, the wicked, are dead during the 1000 years. It is only after the 1000 years that the New Jerusalem, filled with the saved (those taken up to be with Him at His Coming), descends toward earth. At that time the wicked are raised and judged. Before the City touches down the wicked bow in recognition of God being right and in recognition that they are not only unworthy, but unfit for a life everlasting in Heaven relocated to earth. Their very nature would not relish the joys of Heaven. Fire comes down and melts the earth with fervent heat and the wicked are destroyed. No body ever dies, has pain, or shed a tear after that point in time. Not the righteous in God nor the wicked for they are become as if they never were. This is how I have understood the mercy and love of God meted out in justice.  Not as an ever burning sheol, hell, grave, in which the wicked are given everlasting life in agony, but a punishment, not a punishing, whose results are eternal, but the destruction is not continual rather the action is grammatically punctiliar. 

I have not supported what I have said above, but can give you a supported version if you so desire.

Comment by David Brigham on August 9, 2016 at 6:47am

Dear Ken. I vaguely recall that Empty Earth scenario -- Adventist or Watchtower? I always found it curious, as the text of that chapter itself is IMHO quite clear:

* the devil is bound for 1000 years so that he cannot deceive the nations anymore (vs 3) -- clearly implying that there are still people (mortal nations, not ressurected saints) living on earth during the 1000 years who could otherwise be deceived

* the resurrected saints are said to rule as kings with Messiah (vs 4-5), implying there need to be subjects to rule over, not an empty earth, during those 1000 years

* the nations that rebel after the 1000 years (vs 8) will in your scenarion likely be the resurrected heathens, but note the second resurrection follows after this war, see vs 11. So it must be the nations that were alive in the Millenium and who now rebel.

* The White Throne judgement clearly is about the bad and the good (vs 12, 15), not just the bad, In an empty earth scenario there are no good people who missed out on the first resurrection; it can only refer to those who came to faith during the Millenium on earth.

* It is clear that Messiah's coming is a very visible event (vs, 11-16) not some kind of Rapture: He comes down, meets the resurrected saints in the air, and continues to earth to establish the Kingdom.  There is no taking of saints to (third) Heaven afterwards, not in Rev. nor in any other text.

I'm sure we will not agree! :) But just to signal what the idea behind the Messianic Kingdom on earth scenario is, and that I agree with James on this point (although he might disagree on details).


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