Hebrew Gospel Pearls #15 – The key principles to understanding Hebrew manuscripts

In Hebrew Gospel Pearls #15, Nehemia and Keith discuss the key principles to understanding Hebrew manuscripts, how this sheds new light on the pronunciation of the name of Yehovah, and what this teaches us about the Beatitudes.

I look forward to reading your comments in the Comments Section below!

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Hebrew Gospel Pearls #15 - The key principles to understanding Hebrew manuscripts

You are listening to Hebrew Gospel Pearls with Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson. Thank you for supporting Nehemia Gordon's Makor Hebrew Foundation. Learn more at NehemiasWall.com.

Keith: Uh-oh. Just a second! [laughing]

Nehemia: And the scribe erased “Yehovah”. This is momentous.

Keith: This is momentous, Nehemia.

Nehemia: This is a very big deal.

Keith: Welcome to Hebrew Gospel Pearls. We are in what we’re calling the Biblical Beatitudes series. We’re actually in episode 15. We have decided we’re going to take our time and go through each of what’s called “traditional Beatitudes” one at a time, and I’m convinced that if you hang in here with us, you are going to truly be blessed/happy. We are at, Nehemia, Matthew chapter 5 verse 4, and before you get started, I want to say something.

Nehemia: Yes.

Keith: I read the English, and it seems so simple. You just read the English, it’s simple, and you can have your own translation. You can come up with your own understanding. And then, if I happen to open up Howard’s Hebrew, I see something different. So I’d like to read the English to start, then I want you to do what you’ve been doing, which is… let me just stop and say this, folks.

Nehemia gave us a great gift in 13. He actually did a Hebrew translation, where he read in Hebrew from the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew, and then did an English translation. We make that available to you in the 13th episode. But in each episode, we’re going to go to each of these Beatitudes again, and you’re going to give us the translation. But first I want to read the English, if it’s okay.

Nehemia: Sure.

Keith: Matthew chapter 5 verse 4, NASB. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” What else do I need to understand? I know what mourning is. I know what comfort is. Let’s move on, right, Nehemia? It’s over, that’s it.

Nehemia: I don’t know. What are they mourning about?

Keith: [laughing] Exactly.

Nehemia: It really begs the question… and look, there’s a parallel here; Luke 6:21, which is the so-called Sermon on the Plain. And there, he says, “Blessed are you that weep now, for you shall laugh.” And this is considered the parallel. Now, which one of these did he say, and maybe he said both, right?

Keith: Yes.

Nehemia: In other words, maybe on one occasion on a hill, he said, “Blessed are those who mourn.” And on a plain, he said, “Blessed are those who weep now, for you shall laugh.” And they’re both true, it’s possible, right? Or maybe he said something in-between, and it was just recorded differently by two different people. I mean, there are different ways of looking at it.

So when we come to the Hebrew, it’s a little bit more complicated.

Keith: Yes.

Nehemia: Hebrew Matthew survives on this verse in 20 different manuscripts. Let me see if that’s correct. You know what? It survives in this section on 20 different manuscripts, but this specific verse is actually… am I right, only on 19?

Keith: Yes.

Nehemia: Right. Because Manuscript G doesn’t have this verse at all. Manuscript G… I broke them up into two groups, A and B, and really largely based on this verse, on this whole passage but really this verse.

So let’s just remind the audience what we talked about in episode, I think, 13, that Group A of the Hebrew Matthew manuscripts has verse 2 followed by verse 3… of course, verse 3 is followed by verse 2. Not of course. Which is then followed by verse 5, which is then followed by verse 4, which is then followed by verse 8.

Now, Group B also has verses 2 and 8. Between verses 2 and 8, it only has verse 4. It doesn’t have verses 3 and 5.

Among those, Manuscript G is also missing verse 4. So it goes from verse 2 to verse 8. Now, why are these verses missing? There are obviously two possibilities. One possibility is that we have a scribal error in the Hebrew in the manuscripts where it’s missing. What do I mean by a “scribal error”? A scribe is copying and he’s looking back and forth. He has two texts. He has the source he’s copying from - the first manuscript, the source manuscript - and the second manuscript he has, that he’s copying from. And he’s constantly looking back and forth, and every time he looks back and forth, he stores in his memory two or three words. And he even may say those words out loud, right?

So let’s say he’s copying verse 1, he looks in the source, “Vayehi akharei zeh,” and he writes, “Vayehi akharei zeh, ba’et ha’hee, ba’et ha’hee. Vayar hachavurot…” and he looks to where he’s copying and writes, “vayar hachavurot.” So he stores a few words in his memory. There are traditions where it talks about how the scribes would actually say these words out loud. There are other traditions, for example in the Greek world, supposedly they have this description where one scribe would read it out loud and the second scribe would write. We don’t really have evidence of that in the Jewish world. They would be looking back and forth, and probably for most Greek manuscripts as well.

So here’s what happens. When he looks back to his source, sometimes what happens is he looks to the wrong place. [Keith laughing] How does he look to the wrong place? So, let’s say you have several words in a series of verses that are identical. And here we have a beautiful example - how many verses here do we have that begin with the word “Ashrei?” And that’s called a “homoeoarcton”. “Homoeo” is the Greek word for “similar”. “Homoeoarcton” means “the similar beginning”. So he has a series of verses with a similar beginning, and I’m talking just in the Hebrew, right? One, two, three, four, five, six, and then you could say maybe seven, because it’s a similar beginning. So seven verses. Verse 12 doesn’t begin with “Ashrei”. We have seven verses in the Hebrew version of Group B, where it begins with the same beginning, “Ashrei, ashrei, ashrei,” and then we have… in the Greek, we have nine verses that begin with the same beginning. So it’s possible the scribe… he’s looking back and forth, and he comes to the end of the verse and he looks for the next verse which begins with “Ashrei”. And instead of copying the verse he wanted to copy, he copied the next verse. That’s homoeoarcton.

Now, homoeoarcton, the similar beginning, can cause two different types of errors. And by the way, I’m giving you guys now a crash course into textual criticism. It can cause the error of haplography. Haplography, think of the word “half” - it sounds like half - “haplography”. Haplography is where I have two elements… two verses, and they both begin, “Ashrei”. So let’s say, for Group A I have verses 2, 3, 5, 4, and 8.

So now, the scribe who created Group B - and this is one way that it might have happened - he’s copying verse 2, okay, great, he’s then looking for the verse that begins with “Ashrei”, and instead of going to verses 3 and 5, he jumps to verse 4. Why? Because he remembered the next word was “Ashrei”, and he looks back at his source, and he copies the word “Ashrei”.

Okay, so haplography is, I’ve lost the verse. You have “dittography”. Dittography - think of the word “ditto”. Dittography is when I copy the same thing twice.

Now, I want to show you something, I wasn’t even planning on doing this, but since I’m giving the crash course in textual criticism, I’m going to show you an example of dittography in the Tanakh. And I was just looking at this yesterday….

Keith: [laughing] Hey, this is good stuff, you guys.

Nehemia: No, this is really good stuff. You’re not going to even believe this, Keith.

Keith: Yeah, okay.

Nehemia: Why is this such good stuff? I’m going to show you in a minute. So here we have in 1 Samuel - let me pull it up - in 1 Samuel you have a series of verses. I’m actually going to ask you to read it in English.

Keith: One second.

Nehemia: And then the people, just listen for the repeated words, because the repeated words, those are the words that will cause our homoeo. Homoeo is the similar, you have the similar beginning called the “homoeoarcton”, and “homoeoteleuton” is the “similar ending”. We’re not dealing here with homoeoteleuton.

So the similar beginning. Guys, this is really foundational stuff, because there are so many things in the Tanakh and in the New Testament that kind of don’t make sense until you’re aware of this type of problem. You’ll see scholars say, “Well, some manuscripts read…” and you’re like, “Why do they read it that way? I don’t know.” Well, now you know. Now, you’ll know why.

So let’s start in 1 Samuel 16 verse 8.

Keith: Okay, verse 8. “Then Jesse called Abinadab and made him pass before Samuel, and he said, ‘Neither has Yehovah chosen this one.’ Next, Jesse made Shammah pass by, and he said, ‘Neither has Yehovah chosen this one.’ Then Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to Jesse, ‘Yehovah has not chosen these.’” Continue?

Nehemia: All right. Well, let’s stop there for a second. So we had two verses, verses 9 and 10. And they both begin with the same two words, “Va’ya’aver Yishai,” “And Yishai, or Jesse, caused to pass, or pass over.” And then, the following word begins with the same letter, “shama, va’ya’aver Yishai shama,” “And Jesse caused to pass there,” or, “Va’ya’aver Yishai shivat,” “And Jesse caused to pass seven.” So we have two verses that begin with the same exact two words, and then the third word has the same letter. So this is rife for homoeoarcton, the similar beginning.

If we looked in all the manuscripts of the Tanakh, I would be shocked if we didn’t find a manuscript somewhere where this mistake occurred. And lo and behold…

Keith: Now, wait. [laughing] You’ve found one?

Nehemia: A year-and-a-half ago, I was in Geneva, Switzerland, where I had the very blessed opportunity to examine one of the six major manuscripts of the Tanakh. And the manuscript is called “Sassoon 1053.” I was examining Sassoon 1053 for this exact verse, and what do I find? I find homoeoarcton, not of haplography, where there are two verses and one was lost, but dittography, where there are two verses, and one was copied a second time. So let me show this to you, okay?

Keith: Okay, excellent. Are you going to show our folks, are you going to find a way to…?

Nehemia: I’m going to share this screen here.

Keith: Stop, just for a second. Now, guys, listen to this. I don’t know where you folks are at in terms of the significance of studying scripture, but we’re studying with a guy who doesn’t even have this planned in his head when we start this thing. And it just comes to him. He says, “You know…” and not only does he take us to the verse, he says, “I’ve seen the manuscript.” [laughing]

Nehemia: I’ve held it in my hands, Keith. I actually did images of it with a microscope…

Keith: Are you kidding me? Okay, awesome.

Nehemia: …that I’ll share one day. It’s pretty cool stuff. Okay, this is page 259 of Sassoon 1053. And here you can see something happened. What happened? So the corrector, and it seems it’s the original scribe… Why do I say it’s the original scribe? Because what the scribe would do is he would write the consonants, and he would come then either here, or a second scribe would come and write the vowels and accents. And you can see that whoever erased this never wrote the vowels and accents. The vowels and accents were never added. I can see that particularly, for example, in this word...

And what did he do? He didn’t erase the whole word. He erased the bottom half of the word. Why did he do that? Because spaces in the Hebrew manuscripts have significance. If there’s a space of an entire line, or a half a line, or part of a line, a significant sized space, that means this is the end of a thought and now here’s a new thought.

So what they would often do is, if they need to erase something, they would only erase the bottom half of the letters to say, “Hey, this is erased.” They would also not put in the accents and vowels. But another way they would do it is they would erase the bottom half, and erasing the bottom half told you, “Okay, don’t read these words” - well, you can’t even read them, they’re hard to read - “these words are erased, but this is not a space that was intended, this was a space caused by erasure.”

So how do I know this is erased? So I held it in my hands and I could see he scratched off parts of the parchment here, on these bottom three lines. And what exactly happened?

So we had the case of homoeoarcton, which was the similar beginning. Remember, just like in Matthew 5, we have a series of verses that all begin, “Ashrei, ashrei, ashrei.” In the Greek, it’s a parallel word. And here, he has, “Va’ya’aver Yishai,” “And Yishai caused to pass.” And here I could see the remnants, the top half of the words, “Va’ya’aver Yishai.” So he copied the verse, and then when he got to the end of the verse, which was here, he copied the verse a second time. And he actually ended up erasing the first two words of the second instance and then filled them in. He went back, because he realized, “Uh-oh, I shouldn’t have erased the bottom half of these two words, these two words, we need.” So he had to re-write the bottom of the words, “Va’ya’aver Yishai.

And then, here in the next column, you could see at the top of the column is the full verse, “Va’ya’aver Yishai shama, vayomer gam bazeh lo bakhar Yehovah.

Now, here’s the really cool thing, Keith! What are the last three words of the verse? “Lo”, “not”, “bakhar”, “He chose”, “Yehovah”. Meaning, “Yehovah did not choose.” And the next verse begins, “Va’ya’aver,” which is, “Va’ya’aver Yishai shivat.” So instead of jumping to the second verse, he copied the first verse twice. That’s dittography, from the word “ditto”, as opposed to haplography, which is from the word “half”, where we lose half of it, or connect it with the word half, that reminds me of that.

Okay, so here’s the beautiful thing. What were the last three words of the verse that he copied twice? “Lo bakhar Yehovah.” We actually have a second thing going on here, which called “homeoteleuton”, the similar ending, because “Lo bakhar Yehovah” and the following verse also ends, “Lo bakhar Yehovah.” So this was rife for error. Right? He’s looking back and forth, and he sees, “Oh, I just copied ‘Lo bakhar Yehovah.’ Let me now look back and find those words and copy whatever comes after it.” And that’s what he did. But here’s the really, really beautiful thing.

So this verse is erased. And I can tell you what it says, I know exactly what it says, because he copied the same verse twice. “Va’ya’aver Yishai shama,” and this is the top of Shin, Mem, Hey, Vayomer,” “and He said,” “gam bazeh,” “also in this,” “lo bakhar Yehovah.”

Keith: Uh-oh. Just a second! [laughing]

Nehemia: And the scribe erased “Yehovah”. This is momentous.

Keith: This is momentous, Nehemia.

Nehemia: This is a very big deal. Why is this a very big deal?

Keith: Oh, my goodness.

Nehemia: I researched for years a question. Let’s back up. I started out, Keith, with the hypothesis… First, I started out with the observation…

Keith: Oh, my goodness.

Nehemia: …that in the Aleppo Codex, the most important manuscript of the Tanakh, the name is usually written without the full vowels, just like it’s written here without the full vowels, by the way. And every once in a while, the scribe put in the full vowels, the full vowels of Yehovah. And people said to me, “No, Nehemia. It’s not possible. You’re telling us the scribe made a mistake.” And I said, “Yes, he made a mistake that was right.” And I did a study, Keith…

Keith: Of course.

Nehemia: …about the mistake that got it right.

Keith: That got it right. It’s epic! [laughing]

Nehemia: It is epic. So the mistake that got it right, and in that study, I said something to the effect that I was told… say, “told”.

Keith: Told.

Nehemia: I was told that when the scribes made a mistake with the name in the Aleppo Codex, they never erased a vowel or an accent. And I remember, I don’t know if I said it in this study or a different study, I said that this was based on a database that was compiled over years in the 1970s and ‘80s by scholars who examined the Aleppo Codex directly. And I said something to the effect of, “I wish I could see it for myself, that database.” Not only have I seen the database for myself, but I actually got to see the Aleppo Codex for myself. And not for five minutes, like when I was there with Reggie White, but for nine hours, I got to sit with it and examine it.

And what I found within the first probably 15 minutes of studying the database is that what I was told… say, “told.”

Keith: Told.

Nehemia: …was wrong. Not only did they erase the accents and vowels in the Aleppo Codex, but I found five places where they erased the letters, the actual letters. Now, why is that such a big deal? It’s such a big deal because there’s a Rabbinical law based on Deuteronomy 12:3-4. Can you read those verses, Keith?

Keith: Oh, man. I’m a little overwhelmed right now.

Nehemia: This is absolutely huge.

Keith: Did you plan on doing this? [laughing]

Nehemia: No, I didn’t. Let’s go back, let’s read Deuteronomy 12:3-4.

Keith: Okay, hold on here. Oh, my goodness.

Nehemia: This is completely unplanned.

Keith: But this is beautiful, 12…

Nehemia: But this is important, and it’ll help us with Hebrew Matthew.

Keith: Absolutely.

Nehemia: It’ll help us immensely. Look, let me tell you why… Read those verses, and then remind me to tell you why this is such an important manuscript, Sassoon 1053.

Keith: Tell me again, Deuteronomy 12:3 and 4?

Nehemia: 3 and 4.

Keith: Reading from the NASB.

Nehemia: And it’s talking about destroying the high places of the pagans, the nations where you are coming to inherit their land in verse 2, verse 3…

Keith: Okay, “And you shall tear down their altars and smash their sacred pillars and burn their Asherah with fire. And you shall cut down the engraved images of their gods, and you shall obliterate their name from that place. You shall not act like this toward Yehovah, your God.”

Nehemia: And it literally says, “You shall not do so to Yehovah, your God.”

Keith: Yes.

Nehemia: Now, what does it mean, in the context? In the context, it means, “Destroy the sacred places of the pagans,” and in the context, it means, “don’t worship God the way they worship their gods.” They worship gods with sacred pillars. They worship gods with high places. They worship gods with altars to Baal. Don’t worship Yehovah the way they worship their gods. Leviticus 17 says, “If you bring a sacrifice and it’s not to the entrance to the Tent of Meeting, it’s considered like murder.” It says, “Blood shall be reckoned to that person.”

So, “You shall not do so to the Lord, your God,” or “to Yehovah, your God,” literally means, “Don’t worship your God the way that they worship their gods.” That’s what it means in the context.

Okay. The rabbis come along and they do something that they often do, they take it out of context and they say, “What are we commanded to do? To erase the name of the pagan gods. And therefore, it’s forbidden to erase the name Yehovah.” If you accidently wrote Yehovah somewhere, it’s forbidden to erase it. Now, I’m going to show you what they did in Torah scrolls. This is really cool. This is totally off the reservation!

Keith: Wait, wait, wait. [laughing]

Nehemia: I wasn’t planning on bringing this, so I’ll bring it, because it’s kind of cool. So they did different things in Torah scrolls. What they would often do if they made a mistake in a Torah scroll, and this is, by the way, another example of homoieoarcton, interestingly enough. It’s a beautiful example, because it’s not homoeoarcton. “Homo” means the same. It’s homoieo, the similar beginning. So this is a Torah scroll from the 13th century, and you can see here, the scribe copied on the first line. He got to the end of the line in Deuteronomy, and he copied the words, “me’odkha ad hayom”. And then, he got to the next line and instead of copying the word “hazeh”, which was the next word, he copied “Yehovah”. Right now, we don’t have Yehovah there, we have this blank space. And the blank space has an ink rectangle around it.

Keith: Yes.

Nehemia: So his eye jumped, this is called “parablepsis”, Parablepsis is when the scribe’s eye jumped. It jumped from line two to line three, and he copied the word “Yehovah” here. And immediately he realized it was a mistake, and he put an ink rectangle around it. And this is what it looks like, zoomed in, you can see the traces of the ink rectangle. Then he came with a razor and he actually cut it out. So they did that in Torah scrolls. They couldn’t do that in codices, why? You tell me, why couldn’t they do it in codices?

Keith: [laughing] Two sides to the paper.

Nehemia: That’s right! If you cut out the word, you’ve now cut out a word from the second side that you didn’t mean to cut out! So in codices, what they did is they would often put the ink rectangle around it, but in both the Aleppo Codex and in Sassoon 1053 they erased the name itself. Now, when it comes to…

Keith: Excuse me. Sorry, just a slip.

Nehemia: Contrary to Rabbinical law! According to the rabbis, it’s a sin against the Torah to erase even a single letter of God’s name, but the scribe in the Aleppo Codex did it.

Keith: Permission to just… Nehemia, you really caught me off guard. Folks, I apologize in advance for this. I know we’re supposed to getting to Hebrew Matthew, but this is important. This is really important.

Nehemia: It’s extremely important.

Keith: You’re telling me… Now we got beat up on some of this, regarding what happens to the name. You’ve never told me this, by the way. In the Aleppo Codex, you found five…?

Nehemia: Five instances. So here’s what we were told, okay? Or here’s what I had argued: that the scribe accidentally put in the vowel, and then I was told, he couldn’t erase the vowel because he wasn’t allowed to. And I said, “I wish I could verify that.” I verified it, it’s not true. If he wanted to erase the accents of the vowels, he could. And I’ve found places where in the Aleppo Codex, it originally had “Yehovah” with the full vowels, and the scribe erased the holam. I’ve found a case like that, right?

So I have six places, or eight places, it depends how you count them, where it has the full vowels, but there’s one place where it had the full vowels and he erased the holam. But it’s even bigger than that. Not only did he erase the vowels, he actually erased the consonants in five places. But I only have circumstantial evidence in the Aleppo Codex. I have very powerful circumstantial evidence, especially in one of the cases, where you can kind of see the outline of the first Hey and the second Hey.

When it comes to Sassoon 1053, it’s not circumstantial evidence. I’m going to share it one more time, and then I’m going to tell you why it’s so important.

Keith: Please.

Nehemia: So here it is on the screen, the bottom of Yud-Hey-Vav-Hey was erased, contrary to Rabbinical law. So we know 100 percent this scribe was not a Rabbinical Jew. And the same thing of the scribe who wrote at least the consonants of the Aleppo Codex, and you could argue the accents as well, but certainly, the consonants. He wrote Yud-Hey-Vav-Hey and he erased the bottom of it.

Why is this so important? So, this is a codex, a Bible, that was written shortly after the Aleppo Codex was written, and it’s mentioned in a booklist that was found in the Cairo Genizah. The Genizah was this archive of manuscripts from Cairo. And in this archive, it mentions all the books they had in their library. And this is the book of the Jews, they were called the Jews of al-Shams, which is the Jews of the Levant, meaning Israel.

So the Jews of Israel, the Jerusalemite Jews in Cairo had this booklist of their library, and one of them was called The Brother of the Crown. [Keith laughing] And the Brother of the Crown, it’s been argued, is Sassoon 1053.

Keith: Oh, my goodness.

Nehemia: And Sassoon 1053 actually mentions… it’s the earliest reference we have that Ben Asher is the scribe who wrote the Aleppo Codex - in Sassoon 1053 itself. And that the scribe who wrote the consonants erased the bottom half of Yud-Hey-Vav-Hey. There it is.

Keith: Guys, I just want everyone to realize, I mean, I’m sitting here in real time in utter… I’m trying to hold myself together, folks. After I get off this call with Nehemia, I’ll yell and I’ll shout and I’ll dance, because what you have uncovered is the approach that you take, Nehemia, which is this; you say that you were born in Illinois, but you’re really from Missouri.

Nehemia: In my heart.

Keith: In his heart. He’s a “show me” person, and I’m not going to go much further, other than to say this… What you just showed us that you saw, changes the game of the argument that has been cast upon you and upon the processes…

Nehemia: One of the big arguments is, they never made mistakes with the name, it’s not possible.

Keith: Oh, my goodness.

Nehemia: I’ve found mistakes.

Keith: Folks, this is huge.

Nehemia: I’ve found mistakes that they corrected. I’ve found mistakes they didn’t correct, Keith.

Keith: And can I say this? Now, this is what I want to say, because I know what you’re going to end up doing. I know what you’re going to end up doing, we’ll go too far. But I want to say why this is significant with Hebrew Matthew, because with Hebrew Matthew, as you are an investigator in Torah scrolls, and with the big six, and dealing with these codices and powerful, powerful things, you’ve taken the same approach with the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew. You have taken the same approach to actually investigate - what is the scribe doing? And in Hebrew Matthew chapter 5 verse 4, we see it in a powerful way. [laughing]

Nehemia: Now, before we get to 5:4, we’ll get to that in the Plus. I don’t think we’re going to get to it now. I’ve got to explain these two groups - we have Group A and we have Group B. And remember, Group B doesn’t have verses 3 and 5.

Keith: Right.

Nehemia: And so all of this was to explain why it is they don’t have verses 3 and 5, and there are two explanations. I didn’t get to the second explanation. The first explanation is that maybe there’s an error that the scribe was copying, and it says, “Ashrei” seven times. Seven verses in a row begin, “Ashrei, ashrei, ashrei, ashrei, ashrei, ashrei, ashrei.” And in the Greek, it’s two more. Maybe the original Hebrew had all nine verses, and verses 6 and 7, that we’ll get to in a future episode, maybe they were lost by homoeoarcton, the similar beginning, with haplography, that is, it was lost. So that’s possibility number one - the verses were lost, that when he saw the word “Ashrei” his eyes skipped. Instead of copying verse 3, he skipped to what he thought was the next word to copy, but it was verse 4. Then he did it again, and copied verse 8 instead of verse 5. Actually, it’s backwards, meaning we have verse 3 followed by verse 5, followed by verse 4 in the Group B manuscripts. So that’s possibility number one - that the original Hebrew had all nine or possibly seven of these “Ashrei” verses of the “Blessed be” verses, “Makarios” verses, and that two or four of them were lost. That’s possibility number one.

What’s possibility number two? Possibility number two is kind of obvious - that the Group B manuscripts have the original Hebrew Matthew, and that Hebrew Matthew originally just didn’t have four of the verses that the Greek Matthew has, and that somebody came along and said, “Wait a minute. There are missing verses here. We’ve got to add them in from the Greek,” or from the Latin, or whatever they were using, right? They translated them from the Latin or the Greek into Hebrew, that’s possibility number two. And what suggests that as a strong possibility? I lean towards that possibility, but I don’t know, right? How can I know?

I lean towards that possibility because in Group B manuscripts where they do have verses 3 and 5, verse 5 comes before verse 4. And we have this idea in textual criticism, it’s a very common thing in the study of manuscripts, that originally, something was written in the margin, and later, another scribe comes along and writes it in the body of the text, and he doesn’t exactly know where to put it, so he puts it in the wrong place.

In other words, let’s imagine this scenario: Originally, Hebrew Matthew has verse 2, verse 4, followed by verse 8. And between verses 2 and 8, there is one verse. So verse 3 isn’t there, verse 5 isn’t there, verse 6 isn’t there, and verse 7 isn’t there. Maybe that’s what the original Hebrew Matthew had. I’m not saying that’s what Yeshua said in the Sermon on the Mount. We have the Greek testimony of Matthew and we have the Greek testimony of Luke 6. We have two other testimonies.

But maybe the original Hebrew Matthew jumped from verse 2 to verse 4 to verse 8, and maybe that’s how it originally was written. And then a scribe comes along and says, “Wait a minute. I know there’s more in the Sermon on the Mount. I don’t remember everything,” and he goes and he looks in Greek or in whatever he had, and he writes verses 3 and 5 in the margin. And then in another phase, now phase three, verse 3 is put where it belongs, the next time the manuscript is copied, but he doesn’t exactly know where to put verse 5, so he puts it after 4. That’s scenario number two. And I really have no way of knowing which of these took place.

What’s really amazing is what we find in verse 4, because all the manuscripts except for manuscript G have verse 4, but both groups A and group B have verse 4.

Keith: [laughing] Oh, my goodness.

Nehemia: And verse 4 has something that just blew my mind. I’m going to save it for the Plus section.

Keith: And the reason we have to save it, you guys, and please, we’re not playing around here.

Nehemia: No, this is big.

Keith: We have to give it it’s time. We have to give it it’s effort.

Nehemia: Absolutely.

Keith: We have to be able to take that approach. I want to tell folks something, also Nehemia, I did something in preparation for going to the Plus section. I called a famous Orthodox rabbi…

Nehemia: Really?

Keith: …in Israel, and I asked him about the two Hebrew words in 5 verse 4 without giving him context. I just said, “What do these two words mean?” And I’ll just tell you something, he blessed me. So we’re going to go to the Plus section.

Episode 14 is where we got into 5:3, and that is at Nehemia’s Wall. It is for the folks that are supporters of Nehemia’s Wall. Now, we’re at 5:4. What we’re going to do now is we’re going to end the public presentation. If you’re not blessed by this… listen, I’m telling you folks right now, you could stop right now and be blessed. But I’m telling you, there’s so much more that we’re about to go in 5:4 that if it blows Nehemia away, it’s going to blow everybody away!

So what you’ve gotta do right now is, you go to Biblical Foundations, BFAInternational.com, become a Premium Member. Once you become a Premium Member, you have access to 5:4, front page of BFAInternational.com. You just click the Hebrew Gospel Pearls and you’ll have access to all of that.

Nehemia, is that enough, even enough before we…?

Nehemia: I just want to say one last thing.

Keith: Yes.

Nehemia: What I love so much about the Sassoon 1053 example I shared is that in textual criticism they tell you all these theories about how errors take place, but they’re just theories. Here, we could see what the scribe did! In brown, and in another shade of brown, and black, and white. In other words, we see what actually happened, as clear as day. And did that happen in Hebrew Matthew? Or did this other thing happen? We don’t know, for sure - it’s one of those two possibilities. But it’s such a beautiful example that can shed light on so many other things. It really blessed me to be able to see that in Hebrew Matthew and tie that in with what happened in the Tanakh. It’s just beautiful things.

And I can’t wait to share an even more powerful example, in my view, in 5:4 in the Plus section.

Keith: I mean, I’m a little overwhelmed and excited, so I want to go on. Can you pray for us?

Nehemia: Yes.

Keith: And then I’ll close.

Nehemia: Yehovah, Avinu Shebashamayim, Yehovah, our Father in Heaven, thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to find that I was wrong about the Aleppo Codex, that indeed, when it came to Your name and a mistake was made, if they knew about that mistake, the scribes corrected it. And when they didn’t correct it, that means they either didn’t know about it or they thought it was right.

It was right, not how they intended it originally, but in a different way, Yehovah. Yehovah, I am so blessed to have found out and discovered these things. I realize this is no small thing, that few people have had this opportunity. And to give me the opportunity to share that with the world, Yehovah, is such a great honor, such a great blessing. I ask, Yehovah, for all those who seek Your name, who want to understand Your word, to understand the words spoken 2,000 years ago in Matthew, in whatever words they come to understand, Yehovah, You give them the heart to understand those things and the guidance to walk in Your way, and Your path. Amen.

Keith: Yes. And Father, thank you so much for what You have taught me regarding vision, that when You give vision, You also give provision. I want to thank You for the people that have provided for this process to go forward. I want to thank You for every person who has put their hand to the plow, that has helped us. We ask for blessing upon them. Now, Father, as we go forward, and we’ve slowed down in this section, these Biblical Beatitudes, so much we can learn, so much we can apply, so much that we can share. We just ask that You would give us grace to continue in excellence. We thank You for all of the things that You have done, are doing, and will do. We lift it all up to You in Your name. Amen.

Nehemia: Amen.

You have been listening to Hebrew Gospel Pearls with Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson. Thank you for supporting Nehemia Gordon’s Makor Hebrew Foundation. Learn more at NehemiasWall.com.

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  • Rachel says:

    Hey was reading in Matthew 5 today and am super excited for you to continue on with next verses….. is there an estimate on when this series will resume? It has been such a blessing so far!

  • Cynda says:

    When can we look for the next Gospel Pearls to come out?

  • Randy and Yuko says:

    It’s been a long time. Are you two going to continue? We hope so!!!

  • Kevin George says:

    Nehemia, what are the five verses where the name was erased? I want to look them up in my pdf Aleppo codex. Thank you!

  • WynWonder says:

    WOW!! The agenda is so clear…what a great movie this would make…

  • Coloradomom09 says:

    The Beatitudes… The Blessed Attitudes

  • Michael Ciavirella says:

    Thank you to you and Keith as always for blessing us with so much knowledge and information that Yehovah is using to help shape me and mold me. Love you guys.

  • Daisy Tetreau says:

    Hi Nehemia, I was truly blessed with what you brought at the end of 15+. I burst into tears at your suggestion of what Yeshua possibly meant by, “they shall be comforted”.
    I cannot thank you enough: for you being a Jew are willing to share with me, a Gentile.
    Right now I am counting the days to Shavuot
    where Yeshua asked His followers to wait for the Holy Spirit. As we all wait for Messiah I realize how l much I need to appreciate the comfort available through the Holy Spirit. Love to you and Keith.