The Masoretes were groups of Jewish scribe-scholars who worked between the 6th and 10th centuries CE, based primarily in early medieval Palestine in the cities of Tiberias and Jerusalem, as well as in Iraq. The Masoretic Text[a] (MT or 𝕸) is the authoritative Hebrew and Aramaic text of the 24 books of Tanakh for Rabbinic Judaism. It was primarily copied, edited and distributed by a group of Jews known as the Masoretes between the 7th and 10th centuries of the Common Era (CE). It is the text behind all of our Bible translations.
OLD TESTAMENT TEXTUAL STUDIES: Accuracy of Transmission
Respecting the text of the Hebrew Scriptures, scholar W. H. Green observed: “It may be safely said that no other work of antiquity has been so accurately transmitted.” (Archaeology and Bible History, by J. P. Free, 1964, p. 5) This statement is even more true today.
Manuscripts of the Hebrew Scriptures
The first list of the Old Testament manuscripts in Hebrew, made by Benjamin Kennicott (1776–1780) and published by Oxford, listed 615 manuscripts from libraries in England and on the Continent. Giovanni de Rossi (1784–1788) published a list of 731 manuscripts. The main manuscript discoveries in modern times are those of the Cairo Geniza (c. 1890)... Continue Reading →
OTTC GENESIS 47:21: Did Moses write of Joseph, saying that “he removed them to the cities” or was it “he enslaved them as slaves”?
DIFFICULTY: For some scholars, this is a difficulty, as they feel “he removed them [i.e., the people] to the cities,” does not make a lot of sense in this context. They feel that “he made slaves of them” makes more sense in this context. What is the case?
OTTC GENESIS 46:26-27: WAS IT “TWO SOULS” OR WAS IT “NINE SOULS”? WAS THE TOTAL “SEVENTY SOULS” OR WAS IT “SEVENTY-FIVE SOULS”?
First, a quick reminder about textual issues. Simply put, having no perfect solution does not mean that there is no perfect solution, it merely eludes us at this time. For this textual difficulty, many have offered different explanations.
OTTC GENESIS 25:18: Was It “They Settled” Or Was It “He Settled”?
The Hebrew Text has the reading “they settled” in verse 18 of chapter 25. On the other hand, the LXX and VG, have “he settled” in verse 18 of chapter 25, the latter translations being a reference to Ishmael for the sake of clarity.
OTTC GENESIS 22:13: Was the ram “behind him” [Abraham] Or was it “one” ram?
The Masoretic Text has the reading “behind him” (אַחַר, ’akhar) in verse 13 of chapter 22. On the other hand, a number of Hebrew MSS, the Septuagint (LXX), Syriac (SYR), and Samaritan Pentateuch (SP) have “one” (Heb. אֶחָד, ’ekhad; Gr. εἷς, heis) in verse 13 of chapter 22.
OTTC GENESIS 21:16: WAS IT “THE CHILD CRIED ALOUD AND WEPT” OR “SHE LIFTED UP HER VOICE AND WEPT”?
The Hebrew has the reading “she lifted up her voice and wept” in verse 16 of chapter 21. On the other hand, the Greek Septuagint (LXX) has “and the child cried aloud and wept” (referring to Ishmael) in verse 16 of chapter 21.
OTTC GENESIS 21:9: Was “mocking [her son Isaac]” in the original authored by Moses?
The Hebrew has the reading “mocking/laughing” in verse 9 of chapter 21. On the other hand, the Greek Septuagint (LXX) and the Latin Vulgate (VG) have added “her son Isaac” in verse 9 of chapter 21.
OTTC GENESIS 19:17: “they said” or, “one said”
The Hebrew has the reading “he or one said” in verse 17 of chapter 19. On the other hand, the Greek Septuagint (LXX), Syriac Peshitta (SYR), and the Latin Vulgate (VG) have “they said” in verse 17 of chapter 19.