emandations of the sopherim

Schmuel schmuel at escape.com
Sun Sep 1 18:11:08 EDT 2002

Shalom b-hebrew,

I have been researching the issue of the passages that are conjectured or 
theorized to have been changed by the Sopherim, the Scribes, before the 
Masoretes.. this post will just focus on the tetragrammaton/adonai issues....

I will share my web research, and would appreciate any ideas and resources 
from the
scholars on this forum...

There is a basic issue here as to the significance of this Massorah, and 
whether it
should be considered important in discussing and translating the Masoretic 

This has always been an issue with the Jehovah Witness translation, now it has
come to the fore because a few other translations have taken up the cause of
modifying the Masoretic Text based on Massorah notations ..

What thinketh our scholars, experts, and thinking lay-folk ?

Here is my search material, organized to an extent, so that you will have an
idea what a link leads too....


The 134 Passages Where The Sopherim Altered "Jehovah" to  "Adonai".
Appendix 32 From The Companion Bible, by Bullinger

All the Companion Bible appendixes can be found at

Here are two general discussions of the issue ..

The Emendations of the Sopherim

The Family of God Part 2: The Sopherim and the Alterations of the Hebrew 
Text by Jack M. Lane
"On the other hand, the Sopherim, called by Ginsburg "the authorized 
revisers of the text," some time after the return of the Jews from the 
Babylonian captivity altered the script from its angular paleo-Hebrew form 
to the square Aramaic form, aided the division of words--a practice 
carefully observed in the Hebrew inscriptions from the first half of the 
first millennium--by distinguishing five final letter forms and aided the 
reading of a text by continually inserting consonantal vowels called mattes 
lectionis. =====================================================

Translations like the Original Bible Project,
James Tabor http://www.centuryone.org/translation.html ,

and The Scriptures (ISR- South Africa)
Preface - http://www.isr-messianic.org/downloads/preface.pdf

have decided to "restore" these passages to have the tetragrammaton
(Tabor uses ADONAI YHVH with a line through the ADONAI)


A lot of the source information seems to come from ..

The Ginsberg Massorah (Ktav Publishing House, 1975 reprint)

Also a good footnote for scholarly reference is ..

19. The best treatment on the subject is by Carmel McCarthy, The Tiqqune 
Sopherim and Other Theological Corrections in the Masoretic Text of the Old 
Testament (GÅ¡ttingen: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 1981), who does not limit 
the scribal errors to eighteen, but discusses several additional errors. 
See also Christian D. Ginsburg, Introduction to the Massoretico-Critical 
Edition of the Hebrew Bible (London: Trinitarian Bible Society, 1897; 
reprinted with prolegomenon by Harry M. Orlinsky, New York: Ktav, 1966), 
352–61; and P. Kyle McCarter Jr., Textual Criticism: Recovering the Text 
of the Hebrew Bible (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1986), 58.

The Jewish Talmud, which dates to the fifth century a.d., lists eighteen 
occasions when the scribes intentionally altered the Old Testament because 
they thought certain ideas showed disrespect for God, or because certain 
ideas disagreed with the scribes’ theological notion of who or what God 
is. These textual changes, called tiqqune sopherim (errors of the scribes) 
may be found in the following verses: Genesis 18:22; Numbers 11:15; 12:12; 
1 Samuel 3:13; 2 Samuel 16:12; 20:1; 1 Kings 12:16; Jeremiah 2:11; Ezekiel 
8:17; Hosea 4:7; Habakkuk 1:12; Zechariah 2:12; Malachi 1:13; Psalm 106:20; 
Job 7:20; 32:3; 2 Chronicles 10:16; and Lamentations 3:20.19

(I would be very interested in knowing the location of the Talmud passages
  referenced in the second paragraph)

Also there is a lecturer at Hebrew University who is a scholar on these 

Zipor, Moshe.
Some Notes on the Origin of the Tradition of the Eighteen Tiqqune Sopherim. 
VT, vol. 44, 1994,
p. 77-102.   (not sure what VT is :-)

We find discussions of these emandations that are all over the map..
Here are three types of strange arguments that use this information...

Some use them to justify "2 (or more) Yahweh" theories..
The Two Jehovah's of the Psalms by Carl D. Franklin

Christian Churches of God and similar groups references them all the time,
sometimes f or strange theological reasons
http://www.logon.org/english/S/p134.html - 2 Yahovah
http://www.cbcg.org/2jehovahs_psa1.htm - The Two Jehovahs of the Psalms
http://www.logon.org/english/S/p178.html Psalm 110 multiple YHWH
http://www.ccg.org/english/s/p071.html -The Angel and Abraham's Sacrifice
http://www.ccg.org/english/s/P059.html . The alterations of the Old 
Testament Hebrew by the Sopherim do not indicate a late compilation, but 
rather with the DSS and the LXX, we know that they altered the texts, and a 
genuine theologian will understand why.

Some use them to justify anti-Semitic/kenite theories, and/or "don't trust 
the jewish scribes"
When the Kenite scribes took over the duties of the scribes [I Chronicles 
2:55], and became the Sopherim or translators of the Holy Text, things 
started to change. In the case of the altering of "Jehovah" to "Adonai"; 
what these Kenites have done is strip God of His Divinity, and made God an 
ordinary man with authority. This mistranslation has happened in one 
hundred and thirty four [134] places in the Old Testament alone. It is not 
Adonai, for God is Jehovah.

Two Houses: Who is the "Adonai" or the "Lord" of Ephraim?
Fights against the usages of both Adonai and Elohim :-)

Internet scholarship, so far, shows little counterpoint to the view of 
using the emandations, and that is usually in the context of rebutting the 
Jehovah's Witnesses, I will include the text of the most interesting one I 
have found so far...

Adonay, the Tetragrammaton and the Great Isaiah Scroll

Nevertheless, the Great Isaiah Scroll (of the Dead Sea Scrolls, dated long 
before the texts the Jewish Sopherim used) has Adonay, not Yahweh, in 
Isaiah 9:8. This indicates that the listing of the Jewish Sopherim may not 
be totally accurate.

Notwithstanding, the Great Isaiah Scroll does have the tetragrammaton in 
the following places, exactly as claimed by the Jewish Sopherim, but the 
Masoretic text has adonay (or adoni) in these places: Isaiah 3:18; 6:11; 
7:14; 8:7; 21:16; 28:2; 37:20. Thus in these verses, the Great Isaiah has 
the tetragrammaton rather than Adonai (or Adoni) as in the Masoretic texts.

Yet there are these scriptures 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 there were claims that 
the tetragrammaton originally appeared in these verses.

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

What does this mean? There are more instances not supported by the Great 
Isaiah Scroll than are supported. Assuming (and we point out that this is 
an assumption) that the Great Isaiah Scroll is accurate, then the claims 
made by 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 made by the Jewish Sopherim, thus this also throws great 
doubt on the accuracy of the list for the scriptures other than Isaiah.
The Tetragrammaton and the Christian Scriptures By Eric Francke
is similarly critical of the JW usage
"In the appendix of the 1961 New World Translation (pg. 1452), the 
translators proudly proclaim that they changed the Hebrew word "Adonay" 
(Lord) into "Jehovah" 134 times without any Hebrew manuscript support. This 
was done on the basis that "Jewish Sopherim claimed they altered the Hebrew 
text". On page 1453, the committee takes credit for replacing "Elohim" with 
"Jehovah" seven times on the same grounds. Yet, they freely admit that they 
ignore the "Sopherim corruption" concept when it comes to another dozen 
texts that a Sopherim allegedly changed."


Is JUDAISM the Religion of Moses?   by Ernest Martin
Sopherim Taught the Law
    Once the members of the Great Assembly became the copiers of
the Law (the Sopherim), we find the two names synonymously
referring to the ONE group of priests.  <snip>
  This shows plainly that the Sopherim, who were established
about 440 B.C., were in authority for a period just over one
hundred years -- until 331 B.C. And also that the Old Testament,
as we have it today, was made into its final form by the Sopherim
with the addition of a few names to the genealogical tables,
about 330 years BEFORE the birth of Christ!
   The Sopherim had complete authority for doing this. They were
the proper custodians of the Law and ordained of God for this

http://www.christian-thinktank.com/bookabs.html#OT:TCHB (LXX, MT, sopherim, 
etc, various quotes)
"On the other hand, the Sopherim, called by Ginsburg "the authorized 
revisers of the text," some time after the return of the Jews from the 
Babylonian captivity altered the script from its angular paleo-Hebrew form 
to the square Aramaic form, aided the division of words--a practice 
carefully observed in the Hebrew inscriptions from the first half of the 
first millennium--by distinguishing five final letter forms and aided the 
reading of a text by continually inserting consonantal vowels called mattes 

Alfred Edersheim has a little discussion of the sopherim

Facts and Myths About the Sacred Name
html -
Literally taking the characters out and switching them around, yes, they 
are called emendations of the Sopherim, they were done in the second 
century B.C. by the Levites who had as you read in Malachi, they had begun 
to devalue and defame [G-d’s] name.

b-greek thread - YHWH in LXX Papyrii - a related issue

http://66.1911encyclopedia.org/B/BI/BIBLE.htm Encyclopedia Britannica
For these Tiqqune Sopherim or “corrections of the scribes” see Geiger, 
Urschrift, pp. 308 f.; Strack, Prolegomena Critica, p. ‘ 87; Buhi, Canon 
and Text of the Old Testament, pp. 103 f. In the Mekilta (Exod. xv. 7) only 
eleven passages are mentioned. Less important are the Itturë Sopher’im, or 
five passages in which the scribes have omitted a waw from the text. <snip>

These "tumors" were identified by both medieval Jews and Christians as 
bleeding hemorrhoids. The great Christian polemicist Raymond Martini (d. 
1284), the author of the monumental Pugio Fidei (Dagger of Faith), makes 
this quite clear. Discussing scribal emendations (Tikkune Sopherim) to the 
Hebrew Bible, Martini remarks that at Deut 28:27, where it is written that 
the Lord will smite Israel with ba `aphalim (tumors), Jewish scholars have 
indicated in the margin that it should be read "hemorrhoids."(44) <snip>

The Sacred Name .. references the Sopherim p. 16

sequel to What is His Name by John Charles Green
There is another set of Hebrew documents, called THE MURASHU TEXTS or THE 
MURASHU TABLETS that are much, much older than the work of the Massoretes, 
dating from the Babylonian Dispersion, during the Persian Period. These 
tablets have been dated by scholars from 424-404 B.C.E., i.e. the fifth 
century B.C.E. (Before the Common Era)

The Name that is Above Every Name
When the above first appeared in The Christadelphian a reader pointed out 
that according to The Companion Bible there are 134 passages in Scripture 
in which "out of extreme (but mistaken) reverence for the Ineffable Name 
'Jehovah', the ancient custodians of the Sacred text substituted . . . 
'Adonai' ." <snip> These emendations apply only to the use of Adonai on its 
own, not when it is used together with Yahweh as it is even in these 
passages just noted.   <snip>

Also interesting is the French available from 
(I thought there was an online translation, might have been another article)
B. Les corrections du texte hébreu opérées par les scribes (les « Tiqquné 
Sopherim »)
also the bibliography

The Church of God in Truth (Postponements :-)
"The forefather of the priest, the Sopherim, were entirely faithful in 
their appointed tasks. But the majority of the priests after the period of 
religious anarchy made no attempt to teach the people the Scriptures. One 
of the main reasons for their attitude was because most of them had been 
out and out Hellenists!" (Herford, Talmud and Apocrypha, pg. 77, 78). Among 
all the Jews in Palestine, the priests had become the most Hellenistic.
   (and in other sections)

http://askelm.com/doctrine/d020601.htm - Associates for Scriptual Knowledge
The Intertestamental Period
6 The official helpers of Ezra who aided him in canonizing the Old 
Testament were known as Sopherim, Scribes, and this group of people were in 
authority in Judaism up to the time of Simon the Just who died about 280 
B.C.E. Simon the Just was considered the last of the Sopherim.

(about the oral laws)
"These traditional laws had no indication in the Written Law and no basis 
in the teachings of the Sopherim [the priests who helped Ezra canonize the 
Old Testament], because they developed after the period of the 
Sopherim."   Lauterbach, Rabbinic Essays, p. 206

Restoring the Original Bible .. Ernest L. Martin

JW'ish looking stuff, mentioned for completeness :-)

What is the Tetragrammaton

www.tetragrammaton.org =
The Divine Name in the New World Translation
The Tetragrammaton in Hebrew Versions
The Tetragrammaton and the Christian Greek Scriptures
The New World Translation and Hebrew Versions
Jehovah in the New Testament
The Tetragrammaton is Essential to Your Faith
What are Hebrew Versions?

The Divine Name in the New World Translation 
(this includes 134 times where the Masoretic text shows that ancient 
copyists [Sopherim] had changed the primitive Hebrew text to read Adho.nay' 
or  'Elo.him' instead of Yehowah' )

The Tetragrammaton and the Christian Greek Scriptures - long book, JWish 
- html version


Thanks for any assistance :-)

Steven Avery
Queens, NY

schmuel at escape.com

Messianic_Apologetic-subscribe at yahoogroups.com

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