In Psalm 22:16 is they pierced a Christian mistranslation?

by Jews for Jesus | January 01 2005

Psalm 22:16 is one verse where the standard Jewish translations differ from the translations most Christians use. Here’s why. In Hebrew, the phrase they have pierced” is kaaru while “like a lion” is kaari. The words are identical except that “pierced” ends with the Hebrew letter vav and “lion” with yod. Vav and yod are similar in form, and a scribe might easily have changed the text by inscribing a yod and failing to attach a vertical descending line so that it would become a vav. The evidence suggests that this may be what happened, since the Greek version of the Scriptures, known as the Septuagint, rendered in Egypt before the time of Jesus, preserves the reading of “pierced.”

Unfortunately we don’t have the “original text” to check whether that was a vav or a yod. What we have is the Septuagint translation which translated the Hebrew text as “pierced” and the Masoretic or standard text which has it as “like a lion.”

Notice that the translation of the Hebrew is “pierced” in the Greek Septuagint which was completed in the centuries before Jesus was crucified. Therefore the charges made by some counter-missionaries, that fundamentalist Christian interpreters “twist” the meaning of the Hebrew Bible, rings hollow.