Continued from Chapter 37c Some scholars say the spelling ka’aru is found in a 1st/2nd century C.E. manuscript from Nachal Chever (5/6 HevPs). Typical of the tendentious claims made by those advocating the Christian reading of verse 17b is the following: “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 has ‘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 (abbreviated 5/6HevPs), which reads:They have pierced my hands and my feet’!”7 This reading as a vav is also found in several medieval manuscripts (but is not rendered as “pierced”). This may reflect an initial scribal error which misread the yod as a vav simply extending the vertical component of the letter yod to form the letter vav. The error was then perpetuated in one sub-family of manuscripts. On the 5 hand, the presence of the vav may be due to a deliberate scribal emendation elongating the yod thinking it corrected a common error and thus supposedly restored a smo5 reading through the verb kaph/’aleph/resh/vav. If used in the context of verse 17b, ka’aru should be rendered as a causative with the vocalization, ki-’aru, “they made ugly,” “they made repulsive,” “they caused to be disfigured.”

Nachal Chever

There is nothing in the Nachal Chever manuscript nor the Septuagint to indicate that either k’arv or a conjectured krv (4QPsf) was understood or should be understood to mean “pierced.” Let us examine the rendering of k’arv by scrutinizing the manuscript more closely. The difference between a letter yod and a letter vav is that the vertical length of the vav is longer. A comparison of these two letters as they appear on the fragment show them not to be uniform in the respective length of the vertical line as needed for either a yod or a vav and in some cases the verticals are of equal size. Thus, it is unclear as to which of the two is meant by merely looking at the letter. Add to this that there is no three-letter Hebrew root verb that has a silent aleph as its second letter. The outcome is that rendering the word in question as “pierced” is totally incorrect. In Aquila’s Greek rendering of verse 17b, we find the Greek word eschunan = ki’aru, “they have made ugly,” “they have made repulsive,”and “they caused to be disfigured.”8 It is not known if Aquila used a manuscript containing the combination of Hebrew letters kaph/’aleph/resh/vav or if he used this Greek verb in his translation becausek’rv (alt. k‘rv ) has a phonic resemblance to k’ari and a meaning that can elucidate the sense of the verse. That is, the phonic similarity of the word k’ru with that of k’ri coupled with its meaning of disfigurement may have lent itself to his exposition of the text. Considering the early date of Aquila (2nd century C.E.), his Hebrew text would not have contained any vowel marks. Therefore, if k’rv was in his text, the vocalization of this word would have been based on oral tradition and he most likely read it as the causative, ki-’aru, “they made ugly,” or “they caused to be disfigured.” Aquila’s Greek text is an important factor in trying to reconstruct not only the wording of verse 17b in the Hebrew manuscript he used but also in understanding his interpretation of that reading. His rendering has an affinity with Rashi’s interpretation of the verse based on the reading ka-’ari (“as a lion”): “As if crushed by the mouth of a lion are my hands and my feet.” The element of disfigurement is emphasized as the result of the lion’s actions. Aquila’s manuscript may also have read ka-’ari and he arrived at his rendering of verse 17b through a similar understanding of the context as that found in the later commentary of Rashi (11th century). Some Christians cite the lack of a verb in 17b. However, the verb in 17b is to be understood as already expressed in the first part of the verse: “For dogs have encompassed me; a company of evildoers have enclosed me.” Thus, when the psalmist complains that his enemies are like “the lion,” the missing words are understood, and it is to be read, in effect: “Like the lion [they are (gnawing) at] my hands and my feet.” This is the clearest exposition of the text. Rashi’s interpretation of the verse — “As if crushed by the mouth of a lion are my hands and my feet” — is similar in thought to the one offered here though differently stated. The tendentious Christian translation, “They pierced my hands and my feet,” is based on Christian theological assumption. It has to do with a mode of suffering, but does not address the literal text of verse 17b. Too be blunt, neither one of the proposed verbs ever means “bore,” or “pierce.” 7 Martin Abegg Jr., Peter Flint, and Eugene Ulrich, eds. and trans., The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible: The Oldest Known Bible, San Francisco: HarperSan Francisco, 1999, 519. 8 Later manuscripts of Aquila’s rendering have epedasan, “bound” (aorist tense of pedau, “bind,” “to shackle,” “fetter”). Symmachus used the phrase hos zatountes dasai (“those who seek to bind”). The Peshitta, the Syriac rendering influenced by the Septuagint, has the word baz’u, “they have dug.” The Latin Vulgate rendering first used the word foderunt, “they have dug” (c. 387). A later revision (c. 391) read vinxerunt, “they have bound,” but this reading was rejected and the earlier version, foderunt was reinstated. © Gerald Sigal Continued