The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever. (Psalm 12: 6&7)
One of the key verses that assures us that God does preserve His Word is Psalm 12:7, and not surprisingly, it is perverted by most of the modern versions. This mistranslation is often a product of dishonesty, since it is obvious that modern version producers would not want this verse to be known, but it is also a product of incompetence with the Hebrew. It is, above all, an indication of a shocking lack of spiritual discernment.
The following examples will give a sampling, but the NRSV, NLT, NLV, Moffat’s, and many others reproduce the same error. The ASV, got the verse right, which is surprising since so many of the modern version supporters who claim that the ASV is superior argue for the perverted RSV translation of this verse. The NKJV, NWT, and Amplified Bible also preserved this verse, but ignored it anyway.
RSV: Do thou, O LORD, protect us, guard us ever from this generation.
NIV: O LORD, you will keep us safe and protect us from such people forever.
NAB (misnumbered as 8): You, O Lord, will keep us and preserve us always from this generation.
Living Bible: O Lord, we know that you will forever preserve your own from the reach of evil men.
This mistake does have an explanation, since the form in question, which is found in “titserenu” (thou shalt preserve them) does resemble the imperfect (or future for those who follow the system of Gesenius), with a first person plural pronoun attached, but that is not what it is. This -nu suffix is what is known as a nûn epenthetic or nûn demonstrative (also called nûn energeticum by some grammarians such as Davidson). The translators that actually used the Hebrew text, such as those of the RSV, were quite familiar with this form, as I will demonstrate later. I will let the grammar of Gesenius describe this form, since it would be hard to improve upon it.
“The suffix gains still more strength, when instead of the union-vowels there is inserted between it and the verb a union-syllable n-, which, when the syllable has the tone, becomes n- (commonly called Nûn epenthetic or Nûn demonstrative), which, however, occurs only in the Imperfect and chiefly in pause, e.g. yebarkenehu he will bless him (Ps. 72,15)… This Nûn is, however, for the most part incorporated with the suffixes, and hence we get a new series of forms … Rem. The uncontracted forms with Nûn written distinctly are rare and only poetic (Ex. 15,2) Deut. 32,10, Jer. 5,22,, 22,24) and do not occur at all in 3 fem. sing. and 1 plur. The contracted forms (with the Nûn assimilated) are rather frequent also in prose, especially in pause (very seldom -nu as first pers. pl. Hosea 12, 5)
This Nûn is of a demonstrative nature, and gives more emphasis to the word, and is therefore chiefly found in pause. But it occurs also in the union of the suffixes with certain particles.”1 It should be noted that the word in question in verse 7 is in pause. It is placed there, and in that form for emphasis.
This form is quite common in Classical and Modern Standard Arabic where it also is used as an emphatic, and, as Gesenius points out, is used in Western Aramaic. As a Hebrew form it would certainly go way over the heads of the fake Hebraicists whose entire “knowledge” of Hebrew comes from Strong’s Concordance.
The NASV translators appear to have noticed what form was being used here and that the RSV and its followers were wrong. Instead of translating it honestly, this anonymous committee changed the pronoun to him and produced the following gibberish.
NASV 12:6-7: The words of the LORD are pure words; As silver tried in a furnace on the earth, refined seven times. Thou, O Lord wilt keep them; Thou wilt preserve him from this generation forever.
Who is him supposed to be? Is God supposed to be preserving himself here? This translation is downright stupid, but it does show that they were making a conscious effort to avoid its true meaning. The New Jerusalem translators also knew that “protect them” was the correct translation, but they also found another way to pervert the meaning and followed the Anchor Bible’s worthless emendation of God’s words to God’s promise (see Ridiculous Bible “Corrections” #10 Psalm 12 pt. 1).
It is clear, as I said above, that the translation committees that had actual Hebraicists knew of the nûn epenthetic, but chose to ignore it. This article would be far too lengthy if I were to list all of the relevant examples, but the following is a list of verses from the Pentateuch and Psalms where the RSV translated this form as a nûn epenthetic. For the sake of brevity, I will quote the Psalm verses in their entirety and only list the verse numbers for the Pentateuch. The list would be quite huge if I were to list the rest of the Old Testament books as well.
Comparisons with other modern versions would show little or no variation. What made these translators treat Psalm 12:7 differently? It does not take a whole lot of discernment to be able to answer that question.
Ps 1:4: The wicked are not so, but are like chaff which the wind drives away.
Ps 4:6: There are many who say, “O that we might see some good! Lift up the light of thy countenance upon us, O LORD!”
Ps 8:4: what is man that thou art mindful of him, and the son of man that thou dost care for him?
Ps 21:3: For thou dost meet him with goodly blessings; thou dost set a crown of fine gold upon his head.
Ps 22:30: Posterity shall serve him; men shall tell of the Lord to the coming generation,
Ps 25:12: Who is the man that fears the LORD? Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose.
Ps 28:7: The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts; so I am helped, and my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.
Ps 32:10: Many are the pangs of the wicked; but steadfast love surrounds him who trusts in the LORD.
Ps 34:19: Many are the afflictions of the righteous; but the LORD delivers him out of them all.
Ps 37:33: The LORD will not abandon him to his power, or let him be condemned when he is brought to trial.
Ps 37:36: Again I passed by, and, lo, he was no more; though I sought him, he could not be found.
Ps 41:3: The LORD sustains him on his sickbed; in his illness thou healest all his infirmities.
Ps 42:5: Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help
Ps 42:11: Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God.
Ps 43:5: Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God.
Ps 44:5: Through thee we push down our foes; through thy name we tread down our assailants.
Ps 58:9: Sooner than your pots can feel the heat of thorns, whether green or ablaze, may he sweep them away!
Ps 67:4: Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for thou dost judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth. Selah
Ps 89:21: so that my hand shall ever abide with him, my arm also shall strengthen him.
Ps 94:12: Blessed is the man whom thou dost chasten, O LORD, and whom thou dost teach out of thy law
Ge 3:15; 5:29; 9:5; 21:13; 42:4; 42:15; 43:9; Ex 21:29; 21:33; 22:21; 22:26; 23:4; 23:29; 25:2; 25:11; Le 1:3; 1:10; 3:1; 6:5; 7:6; 7:12; 13:11; 13:44; 13:55; 13:57; 17:9; 23:11; 25:49; 25:53; 27:8; 27:10; 27:33; Nu 6:9; 9:16; 18:13; 22:6; 23:13; 23:25; 24:9; 24:17; 30:13; De 7:26; 12:15; 12:16; 12:18; 12:22; 12:24; 12:25; 13:9; 14:27; 15:8; 15:12; 15:13; 15:20; 15:21; 15:22; 15:23; 20:5; 20:6; 21:23; 23:21; 25:3; 28:30; 28:48; 30:13; 31:14; 32:12
Blaspheming Bible scoffers will continue to attempt to use this verse to attack God’s Word, but they do so with no more than hot air. The phrase in question does say that God will preserve them (His Words) just as numerous Hebrew grammars, the Analytical Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon of Davidson, and the King James Bible say that it does.
The modern version characters will do anything to avoid having to deal with the fact that God has declared to us that he has preserved for us a Final Authority. Why don’t they rejoice in that fact and obey it. Would they go out into the woods with a wild edible plant book that lies and declares poisonous plants to be edible? As a teacher of wild edible plants I could be guilty of murder if I were to intentionally hand out false information. No one who is not completely insane would consider such a thing.
Why would anyone then want to intentionally deceive themselves and others at the cost of their very souls by doing the same with the Bible? Demonic possession is the only answer that I can come up with, because logical reasoning does not appear to be a factor.
1 Gesenius, Gesenius’ Hebrew Grammar, London: Asher & Co., 1903, p. 146.
John Hinton, Ph.D.
Bible Restoration Ministry
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