In my books, Rebooting the Bible, Parts 1 and 2, I describe how the first-century rabbis corrupted the Tanakh intentionally to obscure the fact that Jesus of Nazareth was their Messiah. In a related book, A Biography of the Christian Bible, I summarize the essential areas where the rabbis changed the scriptures to deny Christian evangelists’ claims. Their alterations are apparent in the Masoretic Text, the basis for virtually all Bibles except the Orthodox, Coptic, and Syriac churches which base their translations on the Septuagint. In this article, taken from “Biography,” we cover the all-important Messianic prophecies that were the target of the second-century rabbi’s illegitimate changes. These consisted of three key areas: The Messiah’s mission, the means of salvation He offers, and the fact that the Messiah was much more than a military conqueror – He was divine, the incarnation of Jehovah Himself. The Messiah’s Mission and Means of Salvation
We begin with how the Messiah would come to us, his mission, and the means of salvation he would provide. Isaiah spoke of how the Gentiles would hope and trust in Christ. In the LXX, Isaiah 11:12 reads as follows: “And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse and he that shall rise to rule over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust, and his rest shall be glorious.” The Masoretic Text (MT) as translated in the King James Version and all other Protestant Bibles, reduced the appetite and acclaim of the Gentiles for the Messiah. The Gentile’s objective was merely something they sought as a sign or symbol. The MT says rather impersonally, “And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.” When Paul the Apostle quotes the OT, it’s obvious he cites the LXX instead: “And again Isaiah says, ‘The Root of Jesse will come, even he who arises to rule the Gentiles; in him will the Gentiles hope.’”(Romans 15:12) Paul sees in the Septuagint something that the Masoretic Text did not or would not contain after the end of the second century A.D.
We see the same treatment of Isaiah 42:4 when comparing the LXX with the Masoretic: “He shall shine out, and shall not be discouraged until he has set judgment on the earth: and in his name shall the Gentiles trust.” On the other hand, the Masoretic Text (KJV) states, “He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he has set judgment in the earth; and the isles (in Hebrew, ey, also translated “coast-lands”) shall wait for his law.” Therefore, in the Masoretic Text, not only do the Gentiles equate to little more than an idiom, equivalent to “faraway places,” the MT alters their relationship from one of faith to one focused on the Mosaic Law. Consequently, it is easy to see that Matthew 12:20-21 clearly references the LXX when quoting Isaiah 42:4, for its reading is, “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory; and in this name the Gentiles will hope.” Throughout these passages in the Septuagint, we should note the Gentiles are not told they must follow the Torah as the means to obtain salvation. They are simply to trust in Him. One of the essential reasons for Messiah is to bring the Gentiles into the fold.
As to the incarnation of the Messiah – being both God and man – the LXX says one thing and the MT another. In the LXX, we see his deity stressed as not only superior to the law but even to the heavenly angels; for we read the following (in the LXX) from Psalm 40:6, “Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body thou hast prepared me: whole-burnt-offering and sacrifice for sin thou didst not require.” Once again, we see a radical difference regarding the same passage in the Masoretic: “Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire, mine ears hast thou opened; burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required.” Given the contrast, isn’t it undeniable which version the New Testament cites? “For when Christ came into the world, He said, ‘Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure.’” (Hebrews 10:5) The Messiah was divine and yet he would also be human. That human body would become the perfect sacrifice. Psalm 40:6 provides us with a clear-cut case of foreshadowing the incarnation and, less obvious but intimated, a vicarious atonement of the Messiah’s death in exchange for our own.
This was not a picture of Messiah compatible with the Jewish mindset. The LXX prophesies the incarnation; the MT doesn’t.
Deuteronomy 32:43 provides us another unmistakable affirmation of the deity of the Messiah (unmistakable, that is, if you are reading the LXX’s account): “Rejoice, ye heavens with him, and let all the angels of God worship him; rejoice ye Gentiles, with his people, and let all the sons of God strengthen themselves in him; for he will avenge the blood of his sons, and he will render vengeance, and recompense justice to his enemies, and will reward them that hate him; and the Lord shall purge the land of his people.” The writer to the Hebrews celebrates the mention of the angels, aka the sons of God, who not only worship the Messiah but strengthen themselves through the Messiah’s power. Once again, we see that the Gentiles are specifically called out. We read in the NT, “And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says, “’Let all God’s angels worship him.” (Hebrews 1:6) Neither Abraham nor Moses merited angelic worship. But the Messiah does. Angels worship Him and draw strength from His power. Such worship remains something that any good Jew knows God alone deserves. So why did the Messiah merit worship?
When we encounter the Masoretic Text, we don’t enjoy this explanation in its witness. It omits the same astonishment regarding Messiah’s essence and mission. We find instead the plain words of the Masoretic Text: “Rejoice, O ye nations, with his people; for he will avenge the blood of his servants, and will render vengeance to his adversaries, and will be merciful unto his land, and to his people.” We see that there is no mention of the Gentiles. And there is no mention of worshipping angels or the sons of God drawing strength from the supernatural power of the Messiah. What is present in the LXX is missing in the MT.
Was this just a case of misquoting the Hebrew text? Or was the author of the Letter to the Hebrews reciting and expositing words that were present in the Septuagint but had been removed from the proto-Masoretic text by the rabbis at Jamnia in Judah circa AD 110? If it was accidental, happening only once or twice, we might be satisfied that the fault lies in our understanding, not in the composition. But it happens again and again.
Please dig into this issue to satisfy yourself that the Septuagint, in many vital areas, conveys the truth of the original biblical witness. Rebooting the Bible, Parts 1 and 2, as well as A Biography of the Christian Bible, document this startling truth that is sure to challenge the accepted view of the Masoretic Text (contained in virtually all Protestant and Catholic Bibles). Happily the New Testament quotes the Septuagint (90% of the time), which conflicts with the Masoretic Text of the Old Testament.