Sunday, February 5, 2017

Adonay, The Tetragrammaton, and the Great Isaiah Scroll - c

The claim is made concerning the New World Translation it that it is inconsistent in in translating Adonay (or as some prefer, Adonai), for in many places it is translated as "Sovereign Lord" and many other places as "Jehovah". For example, in Isaiah 9:8 it is claimed that it is translated as "Jehovah".
We are not advocates of the New Word Translation, or any other translation as a whole, for we believe that there is room for improvement in all.

Nevertheless, we do believe that there ia a point of misinformation being spread about how words are translated that needs to be corrected. Actually, the NWT did not "translate" Adonay as "Jehovah", so the writers who make this claim are making misleading statements. And yet, without proper knowledge, we do see how one could come to this conclusion, for the Masoretic text does have Adonay, not the tetragrammaton of God's name, in many places where the NWT has "Jehovah". Why is this?

As stated in the back to the 1961 reference edition of the NWT, there are 134 instances in the Masoretic text where the Jewish Sopherim (scribes) claimed that they altered the earlier Hebrew text by substituting Adonay for the tetragrammaton. Isaiah 9:8 is one of those places. The complete list may be found in Appendix 32 of the Companion Bible, which appears to actually be in error in a few places when compared with Ginsburg's listing:

We reproduce this Appendix below:
The 134 Passages Where The Sopherim Altered "Jehovah" to "Adonai". This Is Appendix 32 From The Companion Bible. Out of extreme (but mistaken) reverence for the Ineffable Name "Jehovah", the ancient custodians of the Sacred Text substituted in many places "Adonai" (see Appendix 4. viii. 2). These, in the Authorized Version and Revised Version, are all printed "Lord". In all these places we have printed it "LORD", marking the word with an asterisk in addition to the note in the margin, to inform the reader of the fact. The official list given in the Massorah (107-15, Ginsburg's edition) contains the 134. Genesis 18:3,27,30,32; 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. 2Kings 7:6; 19:23. Isaiah 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. Ezekiel 18:25,29; 21:13; 33:17,29. Amos 5:16; 7:7,8; 9:1. Zechariah 9:4. Micah 1:2. Malachi 1:12,14. Psalm 2:4; 16:2; 22:19,30; 30:8; 35:3,17,22; 37:12; 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. Daniel 1:2; 9:3,4,7,9,15,16,17,19,19,19. Lamentations 1:14,15,15; 2:1,2,5,7,18,19,20; 3:31,36,37,58. Ezra 10:3. Nehemiah 1:11; 4:14. Job 28:28. To these may be added the following, where "Elohim" was treated in the same way :- 2 Samuel 5:19-25; 6:9-17} Where the Authorized Version has "LORD." 1 Chronicles 13:12; 14:10,11,14,16; 16:1. Psalm 14:1,2,5; 53:1,2,4,5.} Where in Authorized Version and Revised Version it still appears as "God". It is printed "GOD" in the Companion Bible.

The list given by Bullinger has been shown to be in error in a few places; but the New World Translation has the corrected listing in its Appendix:
Following is a list of these 134 places, according to Ginsburg's Massorah, Vol. I, pp. 25, 26, [section] 115: Ge 18:3,27,30,31,32; 19:18; 20:4; Ex 4:10,13; 5:22; 15:17; 34:9,9; Nu 14:17; Jos 7:8; Jg 6:15; 13:8; 1 Ki 3:10,15; 22:6; 2 Ki 7:6; 19:23; Ezr 10:3; Ne 1:11; 4:14; Job 28:28; Ps 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; La 1:14,15,15; 2:1,2,5,7,18,19,20; 3:31,36,37,58; Eze 18:25,29; 21:9; 33:17,20; Da 1:2; 9:3,4,7,9,15,16,17,19,19,19; Am 5:16; 7:7,8; 9;1; Mic 1:2; Zec 9:4; Mal 1:12,14.
Notwithstanding, the validity of Ginsburg's findings has also 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 similar view, that Ginsburg basically was in error.

Nevertheless, the Great Isaiah Scroll (of the Dead Sea Scrolls) has Adonay (or Adoni*), not Jehovah, in Isaiah 9:8. This indicates that the listing of the Jewish Sopherim may not be totally accurate.
*Adoni: The Hebrew words Adoni (my Lord) and Adonai (Sovereign Lord) differ only in that the Masoretic scribes added the extra vowel point to make a distinction. This was not done until several centuries after Jesus died. In the original Hebrew text there is no distinction between the words "Adoni" and "Adonai". Thus some argue that the reason that Adonai appears only to refer to Jehovah is that the scribes deliberately added the vowel point only where they thought there was a reference to Jehovah, thus distinguishing the word from Adoni (my Lord). For this reason many believe that several of the places where "Adonai" appears in the Masoretic text should actually read "adoni", and Isaiah 6:1 is one of those places. With this line of reasoning we tend to be in agreement, although some make the claim that the vowel point should have been added in Psalm 110:1, which we definitely do not agree with.

We do find that the Great Isaiah Scroll supports Ginsburg's list in the following places, exactly as claimed, but 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 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 tetragrammaton 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. Assuming (and we point out that this is an assumption, although we consider this assumption to be more likely than the assumption that the changes were made before the Great Isaiah Scroll was copied) that the Great Isaiah Scroll does accurately represent the original writings, then the claims made for the Jewish Sopherim for the latter list of scriptures is inaccurate. We assume that the Great Isaiah Scroll would be more accurate than the list attributed to the Jewish Sopherim, thus this also throws some doubt on the accuracy of the list for the scriptures in other books, not just that of the book of Isaiah.

The claim many make, however, is that the changes to the text were made before 300 BCE, whereas the Isaiah Scroll is dated later than this. The claim is that these changes were done by the Sopherim (scribes: plural noun form of the verb, caphar, Strong's #5608), and that it was done under the supervision of Ezra and Nehemiah, and that it was done around 410 to 300 BCE. The scriptures cited are Nehemiah 8:8,9 and Ezra 7:6,11, by which it is claimed that Nehemiah and Ezra were authorized to edit the text. Actually, all that we read is that Ezra was a scribe, a copyist, one of the Sopherim. There is nothing in the verses giving him or anyone else authorization to change the text. There is nor actual evidence that changes were made to the Holy Name that early. Therefore, we believe the Great Isaiah Scroll is more accurate than the assumption that Ezra and Nehemiah made any changes.

The list of 134 places is obtained from a work of notes attributed to the Sopherim (the Scribes) which have been combined to form part of what is called Gingsburgh's Massorah. It is alleged from these notes that the Sopherim claimed they changed YHWH (Yod-He-Waw-He) to ADNY (ALEPH-DALET-NUN-YOD) in the 134 places. ADNY, without the "quamets" point, is often transliterated as "adoni", meaning, "my Lord.

 However, these alleged changes are disputed by some.

Something else we need to note is that there were no vowel points in the Hebrew text until several centuries after Christ. The Masoretes added the point to ADNY in places where they believed that ADNY referred to Jehovah, to form the word we often transliterate as Adonai, or Adonay. According the legends, these 134 alleged changes occurred approximately from 410 BCE to 300 BCE, with the claim that Ezra and Nehemiah were authorized (by someone, but, as yet, we have not been able to find 'who' supposed authorizedly them) to edit, and change, allegedly, improve, the text. We, however, doubt that such changes were made until much later. We certainly cannot see either Ezra or Nehemiah as having anything to do with changing the text, especially concerning the Most Holy Name. The Isaiah Scroll can be seen to indicate that the changes were made later, but one can read the evidence different ways so as to make it fit the legend. 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.

Evidently, the tradition of replacing another name 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 Jehovah. (1 Kings 18:6; Jeremiah 12:16; 23:27) Please note that Israelites "Baal" worshipers often did not outright reject the Law of Jehovah; they most often tried to blend Baal worship into the Holy Writings. After 332 BCE, with the growing influence of Hellenistic philosophy and culture, the practice turned, at least orally, to calling upon the name of Adonai, instead of Jehovah.

The false teaching was being promoted that the holy name should not be pronounced, and certain scriptures have been misused to promote that claim. The Greek form often transliterated as "Adonis" corresponds with the Hebrew, Adoni, or, by extension, Adonai, but as far as we have been able to determine, no written Greek translation has "Adonis" as a substitute for the holy name; they usually have a form of kurios substituted for the holy name. We have come to the conclusion that Hellenistic influence brought forth two general forms of apostasy, often within the same Jewish leaders: (1) a blending of Hellenistic mythology into and alongside the Bible; (2) a development of traditional laws and doctrines aimed at maintaining Jewish leadership and a separateness from Hellenistic influence. -- Matthew 12:1-8; 15:2-6; Mark 7:3-9; Luke 6:1-11; Colossians 2:8; 1 Peter 1:18 For more information on the holy name, see:

Thus, the disobedient Sopherim (Scribes) are the ones who are more than likely responsible for any substitutions of a form of adon in the Hebrew text, not Ezra or Nehemiah. We have no actual way of knowing when the changes were made to the text, but, in keeping with other findings, it probably was somewhere toward the latter half of the first century AD.

Related Links
Psalm 110:1 - The "Lord" of David
Isaiah Saw His Glory — John 12:41
Abraham and the Three Angels

 The following links are provided for further research although we may not agree with all statements or conclusions of the writers:
The Emendations of the Sopherim
The Companion's Bible's Appendix 32

An examination of the Appendix and a comparison with the New World Translation's Appendix and Ginsburg. References in some forums online: