Sunday, February 1, 2015

Isaiah 6:1 and the Holy Name

The question was raised in another forum as to whether Isaiah 6:1 originally contained the holy name or not. Isaiah 6:1 is one of the 134 scriptures which Gingsburg claimed the Jewish copyists substituted adoni or adonai for the holy name. Thus the NWT renders Isaiah 6:1 as:

In the year that King Uzziah died I, however, got to see Jehovah, sitting on a throne lofty and lifted up, and his skirts were filling the temple.

Of course, most know that the Masoretic Text does not have the holy name in Isaiah 6:1, but rather it has adonai.

The "Great Isaiah Scroll"* bears out that the holy name is not in Isaiah 6:1. It has here a form of adon, "Lord", either adonai, or adoni. I believe the Masoretes made an error here in adding the vowel point so as to make this read adonai instead of adoni. Isaiah is saying that he saw "my lord" sitting upn a throne, high and lifted up, etc., similar to the manner that David referred prophetically to Jesus as "my Lord" (adoni). -- Psalm 110:1.

I am sure that in many of the instances, the sopherim did indeed disobey God by substituting ADNY (a rough Anglicized correspondence to the 4 Hebrew characters) for the holy name. I do not believe, however, that all of the instances that are claimed for such substitution are geniune.

Following is a list of these 134 places, according to Ginsburg's Massorah, Vol. I, pp. 25, 26, [section] 115:

Genesis 18:3,27,30,31,32; 19:18; 20:4;
Exodus 4:10,13; 5:22; 15:17; 34:9,9;
Numbers 14:17;
Joshua 7:8;
Judges 6:15; 13:8;
1 Kings 3:10,15; 22:6;
2 Kings 7:6; 19:23;
Ezra 10:3;
Nehemiah 1:11; 4:14;
Job 28:28;
Psalms 2:4; 16:2; 22:30; 30:8; 35:17,22,23; 37:13; 38:9,15.22; 39:7;
40:17; 44:23; 51:15; 54:4; 55:9; 57:9; 59:11; 62:12; 66:18;
68:11,17,19,22,26,32; 73:20; 77:2,7; 78:65; 79:12;
86:3,4,5,8,9,12,15; 89:49,50; 90:1,17; 110:5; 130:2,3,6;
Isa 3:17,18; 4:4; 6:1,8,11; 7:14,20; 8:7; 9:8,17; 10:12; 11:11;
21:6,8,16; 28:2; 29:13; 30:20; 37:24; 38:14,16; 49:14;
Lamentations 1:14,15,15; 2:1,2,5,7,18,19,20; 3:31,36,37,58;
Ezekiel 18:25,29; 21:9; 33:17,20;
Daniel 1:2; 9:3,4,7,9,15,16,17,19,19,19;
Amos 5:16; 7:7,8; 9;1;
Micah 1:2;
Zechariah 9:4;
Malachi 1:12,14.

Notwithstanding, the validity of Ginsburg's findings have been questioned. And, indeed, some of the places given should be questioned. Lawrence Schiffman is of the view that the emendations theory of Ginsburg, and supported by Bullinger, is a mistaken understanding of the Massorah. Also Nehemiah Gordon, who has worked with Emanuel Tov, is of a similar view, that Ginsburg basically was in error.

Nevertheless, we do find that the Great Isaiah Scroll supports Ginsburg's list in the following places, exactly as claimed, where the Masoretic text has adonay (or adoni*) in these places: Isaiah 3:18; 6:11; 7:14; 8:7; 21:16; 28:2; 37:24. Thus in these verses, the Great Isaiah Scroll has the tetragrammaton rather than Adonai (or Adoni) as in the Masoretic texts.

On the other hand, there are a number of scriptures in Isaiah that were claimed to originally have the tetragrammaton, but such is not supported by the Great Isaiah Scroll: Isaiah 3:17: 4:4; 6:1,8; 7:20; 9:17; 10:12; 11:11; 21:6,8; 29:13; 30:20; 38:14,16; 49:14. In other words, in these instances, the tetragrammton does not appear in the Great Isaiah Scroll, even though Gingsburg claims that the tetragrammaton originally appeared in these verses.

A translation of the Great Isaiah Scroll can be found at:

What does this mean? Simply that there are more instances of the claims of Ginsburg that are not supported by the Great Isaiah Scroll than are supported. It is highly likely that the Great Isaiah Scroll does come the closest in representing the original writings.

Nevertheless, the claim is made that many of the changes were made *before* the Great Isaiah Scroll was scribed, and was done under the supervision of Ezra and Nehemiah. Some Jewish writings claim that Ezra and Nehemiah were authorized to edit the text, and two scriptures are cited to support the alleged claim: Nehemiah 8:8,9 and Ezra 7:6,11. In fact, there is nothing in those scriptures giving anyone authorization to edit the text, and it is probable the substitutions were made by later copyists who claimed authority to do so as inheritors of Ezra's alleged authority to edit the scriptures.

There were no vowel points in the Hebrew text until several centuries after Christ. The Masoretes added the vowel point to ADNY in places where they believed that ADNY referred to Yahweh, to form the word we often transliterate as Adonai, or Adonay. According to later claims, these 134 alledged changes occured approximately from 410 BCE to 300 BCE, with the claim that Ezra and Nehemiah were authorized to edit, and change, allegedly, improve, the text. Ezra, however, was loyal to Yahweh. I am certain that Ezra did not participate in such a devilish scheme to allegedly improve, actually desecrate, the Holy Name, by removing the most Holy Name and replacing it with a title. The Jewish fables, I am sure, were invented to read into the scriptures support for such changes back to the time of Ezra. -- Titus 1:14.

Nevertheless, the tradition of replacing another word for the holy name, at least orally, had actually begun long before the exile to Babylon, with many calling upon the name "Baal/Baalim", meaning "Master, Lord", instead of Yahweh. (1 Kings 18:6; Jeremiah 12:16; 23:27) Please note that Israelite "Baal" worshipers often did not outright reject Yahweh; they most often tried to blend Baal worship in with the worship of Yahweh.

The LXX (Septuagint) is sometimes cited as proof of an earlier change, but actually cannot be used as proof either one way or the other. One would actually need an earlier complete manuscript of the LXX that contains the holy name in order to make a full comparison. All we have are a few fragments that are alleged to be from earlier LXX manuscripts, from which we cannot determine anything pertaining to the alleged 134 emendations.

More than likely, those emandations that were indeed true emandations took place after Jesus' death, when it appears that Jewish "traditional" law actually began to forbid speaking the holy name. (Perhaps the Jewish scribes thought eventually to replace all occurrences of the holy name with the title.) The actual law (of man, not God) forbidding the pronouncing the divine name evidently came after Jesus died, since Josephus stated:

"God declared to him [Moses] his holy Name, which had never been discovered to men before; concerning which it is not lawful for me to say anymore." (Josephus; Antiquities 2:12:4) I believe that Josephus is wrong when he said "which had never been discovered to men before", but that is another subject, which I discussed in great detail in the study of "The Tetragrammaton in Genesis".

The point is that Josephus reports that it is not lawful for him to say the holy name anymore, which lets us know that earlier in his life it was allowable for him to say the holy name. Since Josephus was not even born until *after* Jesus died, then we can conclude that it was still allowable to say the holy name when Jesus was alive and for some time afterward.
-- Matthew 12:1-8; 15:2-6; Mark 7:3-9; Luke 6:1-11; Colossians 2:8; 1 Peter 1:18.

Nevertheless, even if Isaiah used the holy name, Yahweh, in Isaiah 6:1, it does not offer any proof that that Jesus is Yahweh. Yahweh comes to judge the world by means of the one whom he ordained (anointed), that is, Jesus. -- Psalm 96:13; 98:9; Acts 17:31.

Adonay, The Tetragrammaton, and the Great Isaiah Scroll

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