Masoretes - Did They Remove Christian-Supporting Passages?
The Masoretic text of the middle ages no longer has all the language that Jerome affirms was in the Hebrew text of the Original Testament in the fourth century. For example, Isaiah 11:1 no longer has the words “He shall be called a Nazarene” which Jerome says Matthew 2:23 was quoting. Proverbs 18:4 no longer reads “Rivers of living water shall flow out of his belly.” Jerome was saying these Messianic texts quoted by the apostles in the gospels were all missing in the Septuagint Greek translation of 257 BC of the Original Testament but were present in the Hebrew text in Jerome’s hands in the Fourth Century.
Meanwhile, it appears the Masoretes aligned the Hebrew on Isaiah 11:1 and Proverbs 18:4 to match the Septuagint, because they evidently preferred to remove Messianic texts which the Septuagint Greek translation supported removing.
One may doubt the Masoretes would ever do such a thing. However, this was not the only omission or change done by the Masoretes. The Qumram documents from 200 BC embarrasingly now prove the Masoretes eliminated a Davidic Psalm 151 which was found in Hebrew in the caves.
This is known as the Psalms Scroll. For a copy of it from the Qumram library, listing it as non-canonical due to the Masoretes 925 AD deletion, see this link. In verse 15, you will see Jesus was paraphrasing it in the Lord's Prayer ("let not Satan rule over me"). See a copy below under Study Notes.
It exists in the Septuagint from 257 B.C., but entirely disappears in the Masoretic text. Some have misconstrued that the Septuagint translation is ‘inspired.’ But if so, the Masoretes did not think so as they freely removed Psalm 151 from the Septuagint. This example also proves that the original Hebrew text has sometimes been lost. We can sometimes find it by looking at Qumram and its Dead Sea Scrolls.
Of course, Isaiah 53 in the Dead Sea Scrolls from about 200 BC says the suffering servant will die but then "see light" again -- implying resurrection. However, this important prophecy fulfilled in Jesus is deleted in the Masorete translation of 925 AD, and it mysteriously simply says "see" and does not identify what the servant sees. (See our link.) One is supposedly left to surmise that this blatant textual omission is a mere accident rather than deliberate. Yet, since Christians had made a big deal of this passage for centuries, one may truly wonder if this was deliberately made to look like a simple copyist error. Regardless, it is a deducible error (whether deliberate or not), and we can restore the original text due to the Dead Sea Scrolls text from 200 BC.
Column 19: Plea for Deliverance (A Now Noncanonical Psalm)
1. Surely a maggot cannot praise thee nor a grave worm recount thy loving-kindness.
2. But the living can praise thee, even those who stumble can laud thee. In revealing
3. thy kindness to them and by thy righteousness thou dost enlighten them. For in thy hand is the soul of every
4. living thing; the breath of all flesh hast thou given. Deal with us, O LORD,
5. according to thy goodness, according to thy great mercy, and according to thy many righteous deeds. The LORD
6. has heeded the voice of those who love his name and has not deprived them of his loving-kindness.
7. Blessed be the LORD, who executes righteous deeds, crowning his saints
8. with loving-kindness and mercy. My soul cries out to praise thy name, to sing high praises
9. for thy loving deeds, to proclaim thy faithfulness--of praise of thee there is no end. Near death
10. was I for my sins, and my iniquities have sold me to the grave; but thou didst save me,
11. O LORD, according to thy great mercy, and according to thy many righteous deeds. Indeed have I
12. loved thy name, and in thy protection have I found refuge. When I remember thy might my heart
13. is brave, and upon thy mercies do I lean. Forgive my sin, O LORD,
14. and purify me from my iniquity. Vouchsafe me a spirit of faith and knowledge, and let me not be dishonored
15. in ruin. Let not Satan rule over me, nor an unclean spirit; neither let pain nor the evil
16. inclination take possession of my bones. For thou, O LORD, art my praise, and in thee do I hope
17. all the day. Let my brothers rejoice with me and the house of my father, who are astonished by the graciousness...
18. [ ] For e[ver] I will rejoice in thee.
Transcription and translation by J. A. Sanders
Introduction to Psalms Scroll
One of the longer texts to be found at Qumran, the manuscript was found in 1956 in Cave 11 and unrolled in 1961. Its surface is the thickest of any of the scrolls--it may be of calfskin rather than sheepskin, which was the more common writing material at Qumran. The script is on the grain side of the skin. The scroll contains twenty-eight incomplete columns of text, six of which are displayed here (cols. 14-19). Each of the preserved columns contains fourteen to seventeen lines; it is clear that six to seven lines are lacking at the bottom of each column.
The scroll's script is of fine quality, with the letters carefully drawn in the Jewish book-hand style of the Herodian period. The Tetragrammaton (the four-letter divine name), however, is written in the paleo-Hebrew script.
- Sanders, J. A. The Psalms Scroll of Qumran Cave 11 (11QPs[superscript]a). Discoveries in the Judaean Desert, IV. Oxford, 1965.