OTTC GENESIS 2:2: “on the sixth day God finished his work” or “on the seventh day God finished his work.”?

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Edward D. Andrews
EDWARD D. ANDREWS (AS in Criminal Justice, BS in Religion, MA in Biblical Studies, and MDiv in Theology) is CEO and President of Christian Publishing House. He has authored over 100 books. Andrews is the Chief Translator of the Updated American Standard Version (UASV).

Major Critical Texts and Manuscript Abbreviations of the Old Testament

AC: Aleppo Codex
AT: Aramaic Targum(s)
B.C.E.
: Before Common Era
BHS
Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia. Edited by Karl Elliger and Wilhelm Rudolph. Stuttgart, 1984.
B 19A: Codex Leningrad
c.: Circa, about, approximately
LXX: The Greek Septuagint (Greek Jewish OT Scriptures in general and specifically used during of Jesus and the apostles)
     OG: Original Greek (Oldest recoverable form of the Greek OT (280-150 B.C.E.)
SOPHERIM: Copyists of the Hebrew OT text from the time of Era to the time of Jesus.
CT: Consonantal Text is the OT Hebrew manuscripts that became fixed in form between the first and second centuries C.E., even though manuscripts with variant readings continued to circulate for some time. Alterations of the previous period by the Sopherim were no longer made. Very similar to the MT.
MT: The Masoretic Text encompasses the Hebrew OT manuscripts from the second half of the first millennium C.E.
QT: Qumran Texts (Dead Sea Scrolls)
SP: Samaritan Pentateuch
SYR: Syriac Peshitta
VG: Latin Vulgate

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Genesis 2:2 The Westminster Leningrad Codex (WLC)

 2 מְלַאכְתּ֖וֹhis work הַשְּׁבִיעִ֔יseventh בַּיּ֣וֹם  on the day אֱלֹהִיםGod וַיְכַ֤לfinished 

Genesis 2:2 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

2 And by the seventh day God completed his work which he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had done.

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The BHS has the original reading “on the seventh day God finished his work,” while we have a variant in the LXX, QT, SP, and SYR “on the sixth day God finished his work.” The versions are noted for their variants, especially the Syriac Old Testament Peshitta. It might be that the scribes were attempting to make the reference to the seventh day more clear at the end of the verse. “And God finished on the sixth day his works which he made, and he ceased on the seventh day from all his works which he made.”[1]

On this Paul D. Wegner writes,

The editors of the BHS point out that while all the Hebrew manuscripts indicate this reading, the sp, lxx and the Syriac Peshitta read that God finished his work on the sixth day instead of the seventh. Since later it is said that God rested on the seventh day from the work that he had done, it seems reasonable that his work was actually completed on the sixth day. It is possible that a Jewish audience would have considered the resting as part of the work of creation, but it seems more likely that the versions are correct in seeing the resting as a separate element from the work of creation. Thus we have an example where other witnesses may suggest a more plausible reading of a passage.[2]

While this is all very likely, the Hebrew can be rendered or understood that the resting ended on the sixth creation day as the Hebrew preposition (בְּ־) can be rendered “in,” “on,” “at,” “among,” “on,” “with,” “by,” and several others. The NASB and the UASV, both literal translations render it “by the seventh day God completed his work.” The other translations render it, “And on the seventh day God finished his work .” (ASV, ESV, LEB, CSB)

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Brotzman & Tully give us more insight,

In the seventeenth century, the first manuscripts from the Samaritan community in Damascus reached Europe, and scholars rediscovered the Samaritan Pentateuch. We now know of 150 manuscripts of the Samaritan Pentateuch (SP). None come from earlier than the ninth century CE, and most were copied in the fifteenth century. 29 When scholars began studying the SP, it was clear that the text contains particular theological and ideological positions held by the Samaritans. For example, the Samaritan text instructs followers to worship God on Mount Gerizim rather than in Jerusalem. Initially, these differences led scholars to believe that the SP was of little text-critical value because it had been so altered.

The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran initiated a significant revision of this negative perspective. Among the multiplicity of texts at Qumran, researchers found fragments that share essential characteristics with the SP, but none of the ideological changes such as the references to Mount Gerizim. These Qumran scrolls are now referred to as pre-Samaritan.[3] The elements shared by the pre-Samaritan Qumran scrolls and the SP include small additions, rearrangements, and harmonizing alterations in which two passages are brought into closer agreement. Both reflect linguistic corrections, such as removing unusual forms in the text and ensuring that there is gender agreement in the syntax.

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Sometimes, they both show the same minor differences in content in comparison with the Hebrew MT. For example, both state that God finished creating the world on the sixth day rather than the seventh (Gen. 2: 2).[4] These agreements between the SP and the pre-Samaritan texts at Qumran show that many of the distinctive readings in the SP are not late changes in the SP but rather reflect an ancient form of the OT text.[5] (Brotzman & Tully, 2016, p. 44-45)

Codex Leningrad B 19A is the earliest complete manuscript of the Hebrew Scriptures (c. 1008 C.E.), which serves as a primary source for the recovery of details in the missing parts of the Aleppo Codex. The Aleppo Codex is an important Hebrew Masoretic manuscript from about 930 C.E. Codex Leningrad and the Aleppo Codex are the two most important Hebrew Old Testament manuscripts. These two Hebrew texts are the most significant manuscripts of the Old Testament to be discovered so far and as far as usefulness and significance.

Christian Publishing is beginning a free online Old Testament Textual Commentary. In order to better understand the reader should be able to have an evaluation of the usefulness of the sources that enable the textual scholar to ascertain the original words of the original text. See the following blog article: Evaluation of the Hebrew Old Testament Texts and Ancient Versions as to Their Usefulness for Textual Criticism

[1] Lancelot Charles Lee Brenton, The Septuagint Version of the Old Testament: English Translation (London: Samuel Bagster and Sons, 1870), Ge 2:2.

[2] Paul D. Wegner, A Student’s Guide to Textual Criticism of the Bible: Its History, Methods & Results (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2006), 125.

[3] The term “pre-Samaritan” is used because these Qumran texts did not actually form the basis for the SP. Rather, they are similar to the Hebrew texts that were behind the SP and form a common text type. By contrast, the name proto-MT refers to the Hebrew text that actually formed the basis of the MT.

[4] Tov, Textual Criticism, 80– 87.

[5] For this reason, it is not really accurate to refer to these texts from Qumran as pre-Samaritan. These particular readings shared with the SP demonstrate that this was a known and common textual tradition in the last centuries BCE. There is no evidence that these Qumran scrolls are actually genetically related to the SP in any way.

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