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Masoretic Scribal Errors


Some Christian critics have insisted to me that the Masoretic scribes of the 800 AD era -- Jewish scribes -- cannot be thought to have mistakenly copied every single letter and word from their source Hebrew Bible. Somehow the faith of these critics would be shattered if they ever were compelled to admit this happened, and thus they accuse anyone of blasphemy who may think otherwise.

However, God never said scribes could never make a mistake in copying a text. So this "hallowed-Masoretics" doctrine among Christians is just another doctrine of man.

Regardless, I will offer examples of simple Masoretic Text copying errors that are mentioned in Richard Elliott Friedman's work Commentary on the Torah. Friedman is obviously in love with the Torah, and the text. It is from that same zeal that he sees obvious mistakes by the Masoretes. He points them out in footnotes but does not change his fresh English translation to match the true original text. He just lets you know in a footnote what you need to infer was the original text. 




Deuteronomy 49:25

Friedman translates the Maspretic Text -- MT --   literally, and it does not make sense in how "and Shadday" is inserted, and why other texts include El instead of AND.  The MT reads it as if AND is present, not EL.

Thus, when verse 24 starts "And his [i.e., Joseph's] bow stayed strong, etc.," it continues in verse 25 to explain where the strength comes from: "from your father's God, He'll strengthen you, and Shaddy, and He'll bless you." Friedman's comment on page 160 reads: 


49:25 Shadday. The MT reads just Shadday, but evidence from other versions indicates that the line should read El Shadday. (The MT reads 'et where it should read 'el.) 


Hence, Friedman points out that the Masoretes made a scribal error. They misread a single letter as T instead of as L. Friedman thus impliedly tells you it should read ""from your father's God, He'll strengthen you, El Shaddai, and He'll bless you." Otherwise, it would imply Shaddy is distinct from God, and strength comes from Shaddy as well as God, which does not make sense.

This is the first lesson that the Masoretes had no special inspiration in preparing their work. God never said scribes are prevented by God from making mistakes. This is a myth, and needs to be erased in every mind. It prevents seeing the truth which surviving alternative and more sensible versions preserved.