Continued from Chapter 35

(Psalms 16:9-10)

My flesh dwells in safety

The Masoretic text of Psalms 16:9-10 reads: Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; my flesh also dwells in safety. For You will not abandon my soul to the netherworld; neither will You allow Your faithful one to see the pit.

However, while the Masoretic text renders the Hebrew word spelled shin-vav-hay as “pit” the Septuagint Greek renders it as “corruption,” “decay.” The difference is the result of choosing a different set of vowels. The author of Acts claims that this passage is a prophecy of the alleged resurrection of Jesus. Thus, in a fictive speech based on the Septuagint rendering he has Peter state: He [David] saw beforehand and spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that neither was he forsaken in Hades nor did his flesh see decay. (Acts 2:31)

The author of Acts then quotes Paul as stating: That He raised him up from the dead, no more to return to decay, He has spoken in this way: “I will give you the holy and sure things of David.” Therefore He also says in another psalm: “You will not allow Your loyal one to see decay.” For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep, and was laid among his fathers, and did see decay; but he whom God raised did not see decay. (Acts 13:34-37)

This misuse of Psalms 16:9-10 is a desperate attempt to explain the disappearance of Jesus’ body. But, if the psalmist’s words are to be used as an explanation of what happened to the entombed physical remains of Jesus, there is no reason for not applying the statement: “My flesh also dwells in safety” to his entire lifetime as well. The Hebrew verb yishkon, “dwells,” appears in the imperfect tense, which denotes incomplete action. It is used to express a continuation of an action that starts at a point in time and continues on into the future.

Did Jesus’ body “dwell in safety,” never seeing any form of “corruption,” that is, decay, as implied by the statements attributed to Peter and Paul in Acts?

If we apply the words, “my flesh also dwells in safety,” to Jesus the godman, then what happened to his foreskin after his circumcision (Luke 2:21)? Did it ascend to heaven, or did it decompose as with any human piece of flesh? Did his umbilical cord ascend as well? During his lifetime what happened to his hair, nails, and blood shed from wounds? Did the cells of his body die as in ordinary human beings? If his body did not function in a truly human way, he could not be truly human as well as truly God. Yet, if his body functioned exactly in a human way, this would nullify any claim to divinity. It would be impossible for any part of God, even if incarnate, to decompose in any way and still be considered God. By definition, not mystery, the everlasting, one God, in whole or in part, does not die, disintegrate, or decompose: “For I the Lord do not change” (Malachi 3:6). Did Jesus’ flesh dwell in safety after his death? 1 Peter 3:18 states that Jesus was “put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit.” 1 Corinthians 15:44-45 claims Jesus was “raised a spiritual body,” that is, he “became a life-giving spirit.” No mention of the survival of the flesh is alluded to. Obviously, even according to the New Testament, Jesus did not fulfill the psalmist’s statement, “My flesh also dwells in safety.”

Note that Jesus’ foreskin was considered one of the most precious relics of the Middle Ages ̶ ̶ and at one time there existed at least eighteen of them in Europe. One was on display at the Church of the Prepuce (Calcata, Italy), which became a shrine for women who could not conceive; viewing the holy foreskin was said to bring fertility.

© Gerald Sigal