A missed messianic prophecy

Proposed: English bible translations (and most translations in any modern language) are inherently anti-Semitic.

Topic One

Affirmative:

The history of the conflict between the Church and Synagogue clearly goes back to the 4th century if not earlier.  Aspects of this conflict will be covered in later topics but we will assume most readers will accept as general knowledge that there was antipathy between the Christian church and Judaism for most of their shared history.

When translating between a foreign language, and more specifically an ancient language, and a modern one, the translator(s) have a difficult job. They essentially work between two major paradigms, closed or literal vs open or interpretive.  You can think of these as a long spectrum of options.  The closer you go to literal, the more you try to find an equivalent word for word translation.  Interpretive is less concerned with finding word matches, but leans more to conveying the meaning within the context.  No modern translation is 100% closed or open.  Within this paradigm, the translator also must work with their own presuppositions, especially theological ones. Finally, every translator has to deal with the realities of publishing and who is paying for the work of translation (Floor, 2007).

A clear example of these differences can be found in Isaiah 60:21.  WE will start with two Christian English translations.

(ESV) Your people shall all be righteous; they shall possess the land forever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I might be glorified. [1]

(NASB)     “Then all your people will be righteous; They will possess the land forever, The branch of My planting, The work of My hands, That I may be glorified.[2]

In contrast the Jewish Publication Society translates this verse:

(Tanakh) And your people, all of them righteous, Shall possess the land for all time; They are the shoot that I planted, My handiwork in which I glory. [3]

If it is not apparent immediately, the difference is that the Christian versions place the righteousness in the future, the Jewish translation has it as a present perfect progressive.

Which translation is correct?

21  n Your people shall all be righteous ;
1 וְ 3 ךְ֙ 2 עַמֵּ 4 כֻּלָּ֣ 5 ם 6 צַדִּיקִ֔ים
w k ʿǎm·mē kǔl·lāʹ m ṣǎd·dî·qîmʹ
859 5971 3605 1992 6662
o they shall possess the land forever ,
9 יִ֣ירְשׁוּ 10 אָ֑רֶץ 7 לְ8 עוֹלָ֖ם
yîʹ·rešû ʾāʹ·rěṣ l ʿô·lāmʹ
3423 776 5769

 

p the branch of my planting , the work of my hands ,
11 נֵ֧צֶר ►12 13 וֹ 12 מַטָּע 16 מַעֲשֵׂ֥ה ►17 18 י 17 יָדַ֖
nēʹ·ṣěr mǎṭ·ṭāʿ mǎ·ʿǎśē(h)ʹ y yā·ḏǎʹ
5342 1931 4302 4639 589 3027
that I might be glorified . 4
19 לְ 20 הִתְפָּאֵֽר
l hiṯ·pā·ʾērʹ
6286

[4]

Here is an interlinear (the Hebrew word is below the English) using the ESV. You will notice that the ‘to be’ verb, translated as shall, is missing in the Hebrew.  This is an anomaly in ancient Hebrew that allows either translation to be correct.  In this case, the Hebrew can be read as either a future tense or a present tense.

The difference then is the theological presupposition of the translator. In the Talmud, this verse is seen in the present tense and is a justification from Rabbinic Judaism for why they do not need a Messianic figure like Christ to come—all Jews are already righteous (if you remain a Jew).  The significance can be seen in the difficulties Christians have had historically talking to Rabbinic Jews about Christ.  The Rabbinic Jews felt there was no need for a Messiah.  It was only with the advent of the Chabad movement in the late 18th century that a major Jewish sect started looking for a Messianic figure again.

The presuppositions of the translators have a profound effect on the words they use and the way they present them. My first case in point is a prophecy fulfilled by Christ that every English translation I am aware of misses.  It can be found in Matthew 9:20.

(ESV) And behold, a woman who had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, 21 for she said to herself, “If I only touch his garment, I will be made well.” 22 Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well.[5]

Here is an interlinear version (using the ESV).

And behold , a woman v who had suffered from a discharge of blood
Καὶ1 ἰδοὺ2 γυνὴ3 αἱμορροοῦσα4
Kai idou gynē haimorroousa
2532 2400 1135 131

 

for twelve years came up behind him and touched w the
►6 δώδεκα5 ἔτη6 προσελθοῦσα7 ὄπισθεν8 ◄7 ἥψατο9 τοῦ10
dōdeka etē proselthousa opisthen hēpsato tou
1427 2094 4334 3693 680 3588

 

fringe of his garment , 21  for she said to herself ,
κρασπέδου11 ►12 αὐτοῦ14 τοῦ12 ἱματίου13 γὰρ2 ἔλεγεν1 ἐν3 ἑαυτῇ4
kraspedou autou tou himatiou gar elegen en heautē
2899 846 3588 2440 1063 3004 1722 1438

 

If I only touch his garment , I will be made
Ἐὰν5 ►7 μόνον6 ἅψωμαι7 αὐτοῦ10 τοῦ8 ἱματίου9
Ean monon hapsōmai autou tou himatiou
1437 3440 680 846 3588 2440

 

well .” 22  Jesus turned , and seeing her he said , x
σωθήσομαι11 δὲ2 1 Ἰησοῦς3 στραφεὶς4 καὶ5 ἰδὼν6 αὐτὴν7 εἶπεν8
sōthēsomai de ho Iēsous strapheis kai idōn autēn eipen
4982 1161 3588 2424 4762 2532 1492 846 2036

 

Take heart , daughter ; your faith has made you well .” y And
Θάρσει9 θύγατερ10 σου13 11 πίστις12 ►14 σε15 σέσωκέν14 καὶ16
Tharsei thygater sou hē pistis se sesōken kai
2293 2364 4675 3588 4102 4571 4982 2532

 

instantly 4 the woman was made well .
ἀπὸ20 τῆς21 ὥρας22 ἐκείνης23 18 γυνὴ19 ἐσώθη17
apo tēs hōras ekeinēs gynē esōthē
575 3588 5610 1565 3588 1135 4982

[6]

The key word we are looking for is kraspedou, Strong’s #2899.  Fringe is an acceptable translation for this word, but as the word study dictionary tells us:

κράσπεδον kráspedon; gen. kraspédou, neut. noun. A border of the garment which the Jews in general and particularly our Lord wore in obedience to the Mosaic Law (Matt. 9:20; 14:36; 23:5; Mark 6:56; Luke 8:44; see Num. 15:38; Deut. 22:12). The scribes and Pharisees wore the borders of these flowing garments unusually large to call attention to their extraordinary piety and uncommon obedience to the divine commandment (Matt. 23:5).

In the Septuagint, the word answers not only to the Hebrew word for border or extremity (Deut. 22:12; Zech. 8:23), but also to the fringes which the Jews were commanded to wear on the borders of their garments (Num. 15:38, 39). These fringes were a very proper and striking emblem of the radiation or emission of light. The Israelites were commanded to put a “ribbon” of blue or sky–color on the fringes (Num. 15:38), representative of the blue appearance at the extremity of the sky. Wearing such “ribbons” of blue on the borders of their garments was meant to remind them of all the commandments of the Lord.[7]

The word would be better translated as fringes to complete the idea of the Hebrew word tzit tzit for these fringes. By simply saying ‘the fringe’, you are left with the idea that she touched the bottom edge of the cloak.

What prophecy did they miss?

Malachi 4:2 But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings.[8]

Sun of righteousness is speaking of the day of righteousness or Messianic age, the word everyone misses is wings. Let’s look at an interlinear again.

 

But for you v who fear my name , w the sun x of righteousness shall
1 וְ 3 ל 4 ָכֶ֜ם 5 יִרְאֵ֤י 7 י֙ 6 שְׁמִ 8 שֶׁ֣מֶשׁ 9 צְדָקָ֔ה
w l ā·ḵěmʹ yir·ʾêʹ y šemi šěʹ·měš eḏā·qā(h)ʹ
859 3373 589 8034 8121 6666

 

rise y with healing in its wings .
2 זָרְחָ֨ה 10 וּ 11 מַרְפֵּ֖א 12 בִּ 14 הָ 13 כְנָפֶ֑י
zǒr·ḥā(h)ʹ û mǎr·pē(ʾ)ʹ bi enā·p̄êʹ
2224 4832 1931 3671

[9]

You will notice that wings is the Hebrew word knape, Strongs #3672

You will notice the same word here in 1 Samuel 24:4

And the men of David said to him , c Here is the day
1 וַ 3 אַנְשֵׁ֨י 4 דָוִ֜ד 2 יֹּאמְרוּ֩ 5 אֵל 6 ָ֗יו 7 הִנֵּ֨ה 8 הַ 9 יּ֜וֹם
ʾǎn·šêʹ ḏā·wiḏʹ yō(ʾ)·merûʹ ʾēl āywʹ hin·nē(h)ʹ yômʹ
376 1732 559 413 1931 2009 3117

 

of which the Lord said to you , Behold , I will
10 אֲֽשֶׁר 12 יְהוָ֣ה 11 אָמַ֧ר 13 אֵל 14 ֶ֗יךָ 15 הִנֵּ֨ה 16 אָנֹכִ֜י
ʾǎšěrʹ yhwh ʾā·mǎrʹ ʾēl êʹ·ḵā hin·nē(h)ʹ ʾā·nō·ḵîʹ
834 3068 559 413 859 2009 595

 

give your enemy into your hand , and you shall do to him
17 נֹתֵ֤ן 18 אֶת 20 יךָ 19 אֹיְבֶ 23 בְּ 25 ךָ 24 יָדֶ֔ 26 וְ 27 עָשִׂ֣יתָ 28 לּ֔ 29 וֹ
nō·ṯēnʹ ʾěṯ yḵā ʾō·yeḇě b ḵā yā·ḏěʹ w ʿā·śîʹ·ṯā l
5414 853 859 341 859 3027 6213 1931

 

as it shall seem good to you .’ ” Then David arose and
30 כַּאֲשֶׁ֖ר 31 יִטַ֣ב 32 בְּ33 עֵינֶ֑י34 ךָ 35 וַ 37 דָּוִ֗ד 36 יָּ֣קָם 38 וַ
kǎ·ʾǎšěrʹ yi·ṭǎḇʹ b ʿê·nêʹ ḵā dā·wiḏʹ yāʹ·qǒm
834 3190 5869 859 1732 6965

 

stealthily cut off a corner of Saul’s
47 בּ48 ַ49 לָּֽט 39 יִּכְרֹ֛ת 40 אֶת 41 כְּנַֽף ►43 44 אֲשֶׁר 45 לְ46 שָׁא֖וּל 42 הַ
b ǎ lāṭʹ yiḵ·rōṯʹ ʾěṯ kenǎp̄ʹ ʾǎšěr l šā·ʾûlʹ
3909 3772 853 3671 834 7586

 

robe .
43 מְּעִ֥יל
meʿîlʹ
4598

[10]

 

The corner of Saul’s robe.  If you are wearing fringes on your robe and walk fast, they flap behind you—like wings.  Wings was another way of expressing fringes, only more poetically and less formal than tzit tzit.

The messianic prophecy is that you will be healed by touching the tzit tzit or fringes of the Messiah.  This is why the women believed in that power and had faith.

The anti-Semitism, is to not translate the Matthew passage as fringes, pointing to the tzit tzit that Yeshua wore.  The translators for many reasons hide as best as they can the fact the Yeshua was Jewish, followed the Torah (or law) completely thereby making the Greek texts a Christian text that is separate and different from the Hebrew or Jewish texts.

(to be continued).

References

Floor, S. J. (2007). Four Bible translation types and some criteria to distinguish them. Journal of Translation, 3(2), 1-22.

 

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Is 60:21). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[2] New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Is 60:21). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

[3] Jewish Publication Society. (1985). Tanakh: The Holy Scriptures (Is 60:21). Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society.

[4]The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Is 60:21). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[5] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 9:20–22). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[6]The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 9:20–22). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[7] Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (electronic ed.). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.

[8] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mal 4:2). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[9]The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mal 4:2). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[10]The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (1 Sa 24:4). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.