Orthodox Judaism/Psalm 22

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Question
I have read that it talks about being pierced in the
hands and feet.  Is this an accurate translation?
To whom does this psalm refer?

Also, how is it that so many Rabbis have found so many verses in the Torah that foreshadow the life and death of Jesus?

Who do all these verses refer to?

Thanks for your help.

Answer
Hi Jennifer

I'll answer your second question first because it's easy (the second one is easy also but a little more involved). There are no rabbis that represent Jewish religion that have found a single verse anywhere in the Torah that foreshadows the life and death of Jesus. Perhaps you might be referring to "rabbis" who are a part of Jews for Jesus movement, which is Christianity 100% - those are for sure excluded from a Jewish definition of a rabbi. I'd challenge you to show me an example, and we can then unpack it all the live long day. There is absolutely nothing in the Jewish scriptures - an absolute zero - that refers to Jesus in any way, shape, or form.

Now to the Psalm 22.
Psalm 22 does NOT talk about anyone's hands or feet being pierced. While the fact of how much the Jewish Scriptures have been tampered with and mistranslated alone is astounding, I can see how it can happen, because many people do not even attempt to look and see for themselves. Your question implies you have not read the psalm itself, you have only read "that it talks about" some things. Let's set this right and take a look at the psalm as it was carefully translated from the original Hebrew, not mistranslated by a 17th century King James version.


1.For the conductor,  a song of David.   א.לַמְנַצֵּחַ עַל אַיֶּלֶת הַשַּׁחַר מִזְמוֹר לְדָוִד:

2.My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? [You are] far from my salvation [and] from the words of my moaning.   ב.אֵלִי אֵלִי לָמָה עֲזַבְתָּנִי רָחוֹק מִישׁוּעָתִי דִּבְרֵי שַׁאֲגָתִי:     
  
3.My God, I call out by day and You do not reply, and at night I do not keep silent.   ג.אֱלֹהַי אֶקְרָא יוֹמָם וְלֹא תַעֲנֶה וְלַיְלָה וְלֹא דוּמִיָּה לִי:

4.But You are holy; You await the praises of Israel.   ד.וְאַתָּה קָדוֹשׁ יוֹשֵׁב תְּהִלּוֹת יִשְׂרָאֵל:

5.Our ancestors trusted in You; they trusted and You rescued them.   ה.בְּךָ בָּטְחוּ אֲבֹתֵינוּ בָּטְחוּ וַתְּפַלְּטֵמוֹ:

6.They cried out to You and they escaped; they trusted in You and they were not shamed.   ו.אֵלֶיךָ זָעֲקוּ וְנִמְלָטוּ בְּךָ בָטְחוּ וְלֹא בוֹשׁוּ:

7.But I am a worm and not a man; a reproach of man, despised by peoples.   ז.וְאָנֹכִי תוֹלַעַת וְלֹא אִישׁ חֶרְפַּת אָדָם וּבְזוּי עָם:

8.All who see me will mock me; they will open their lips, they will shake their head.   ח.כָּל רֹאַי יַלְעִגוּ לִי יַפְטִירוּ בְשָׂפָה יָנִיעוּ רֹאשׁ:

9.One should cast his trust upon the Lord, and He will rescue him; He will save him because He delights in him.   ט.גֹּל אֶל יְהֹוָה יְפַלְּטֵהוּ יַצִּילֵהוּ כִּי חָפֵץ בּוֹ:
  
10.For You drew me from the womb; You made me secure on my mother's breasts.   י.כִּי אַתָּה גֹחִי מִבָּטֶן מַבְטִיחִי עַל שְׁדֵי אִמִּי:

11.Upon You, I was cast from birth; from my mother's womb You are my God.   יא.עָלֶיךָ הָשְׁלַכְתִּי מֵרָחֶם מִבֶּטֶן אִמִּי אֵלִי אָתָּה:

12.Do not distance Yourself from me, for distress is near; for there is none to help.   יב.אַל תִּרְחַק מִמֶּנִּי כִּי צָרָה קְרוֹבָה כִּי אֵין עוֹזֵר:

13.Great bulls have surrounded me; the mighty ones of Bashan encompassed me.   יג.סְבָבוּנִי פָּרִים רַבִּים אַבִּירֵי בָשָׁן כִּתְּרוּנִי:

14.They opened their mouth against me [like] a tearing, roaring lion.   יד.פָּצוּ עָלַי פִּיהֶם אַרְיֵה טֹרֵף וְשֹׁאֵג:
 
15.I was spilled like water, and all my bones were separated; my heart was like wax, melting within my innards.   טו.כַּמַּיִם נִשְׁפַּכְתִּי וְהִתְפָּרְדוּ כָּל עַצְמוֹתָי הָיָה לִבִּי כַּדּוֹנָג נָמֵס בְּתוֹךְ מֵעָי:

16.My strength became dried out like a potsherd, and my tongue cleaves to my palate; and You set me down in the dust of death.   טז.יָבֵשׁ כַּחֶרֶשׂ | כֹּחִי וּלְשׁוֹנִי מֻדְבָּק מַלְקוֹחָי וְלַעֲפַר מָוֶת תִּשְׁפְּתֵנִי:
 
17.For dogs have surrounded me; a band of evildoers has encompassed me, like a lion, they're at my hands and feet.   יז.כִּי סְבָבוּנִי כְּלָבִים עֲדַת מְרֵעִים הִקִּיפוּנִי כָּאֲרִי יָדַי וְרַגְלָי:

18.I tell about all my bones. They look and gloat over me.   יח.אֲסַפֵּר כָּל עַצְמוֹתָי הֵמָּה יַבִּיטוּ יִרְאוּ בִי:

19.They share my garments among themselves and cast lots for my raiment.   יט.יְחַלְּקוּ בְגָדַי לָהֶם וְעַל לְבוּשִׁי יַפִּילוּ גוֹרָל:

20.But You, O Lord, do not distance Yourself; my strength, hasten to my assistance.   כ.וְאַתָּה יְהֹוָה אַל תִּרְחָק אֱיָלוּתִי לְעֶזְרָתִי חוּשָׁה:

21.Save my soul from the sword, my only one from the grip of the dog.   כא.הַצִּילָה מֵחֶרֶב נַפְשִׁי מִיַּד כֶּלֶב יְחִידָתִי:

22.Save me from the lion's mouth, as from the horns of the wild oxen You answered me.   כב.הוֹשִׁיעֵנִי מִפִּי אַרְיֵה וּמִקַּרְנֵי רֵמִים עֲנִיתָנִי:
 
23.I will tell Your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will praise You.   כג.אֲסַפְּרָה שִׁמְךָ לְאֶחָי בְּתוֹךְ קָהָל אֲהַלְלֶךָּ:

24.You who fear the Lord, praise Him; all the seed of Jacob, honor Him, and fear Him, all the seed of Israel.   כד.יִרְאֵי יְהֹוָה | הַלְלוּהוּ כָּל זֶרַע יַעֲקֹב כַּבְּדוּהוּ וְגוּרוּ מִמֶּנוּ כָּל זֶרַע יִשְׂרָאֵל:


25.For He has neither despised nor abhorred the cry of the poor, neither has He hidden His countenance from him; and when he cried out to Him, He hearkened.   כה.כִּי לֹא בָזָה וְלֹא שִׁקַּץ עֱנוּת עָנִי וְלֹא הִסְתִּיר פָּנָיו מִמֶּנּוּ וּבְשַׁוְּעוֹ אֵלָיו שָׁמֵעַ:

26.Because of You is my praise in the great congregation; I pay my vows in the presence of those who fear Him.   כו.מֵאִתְּךָ תְהִלָּתִי בְּקָהָל רָב נְדָרַי אֲשַׁלֵּם נֶגֶד יְרֵאָיו:

27.The humble shall eat and be sated; they shall praise the Lord, those who seek him; your hearts shall live forever.   כז.יֹאכְלוּ עֲנָוִים | וְיִשְׂבָּעוּ יְהַלְלוּ יְהֹוָה דֹּרְשָׁיו יְחִי לְבַבְכֶם לָעַד:

28.All the ends of the earth shall remember and return to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall prostrate themselves before You.   כח.יִזְכְּרוּ | וְיָשֻׁבוּ אֶל יְהֹוָה כָּל אַפְסֵי אָרֶץ וְיִשְׁתַּחֲווּ לְפָנֶיךָ כָּל מִשְׁפְּחוֹת גּוֹיִם:

29.For the kingship is the Lord's, and He rules over the nations.   כט.כִּי לַיהֹוָה הַמְּלוּכָה וּמוֹשֵׁל בַּגּוֹיִם:
 
30.They shall eat all the best of the earth and prostrate themselves; before Him shall all those who descend to the dust kneel, and He will not quicken his soul.   ל.אָכְלוּ וַיִּשְׁתַּחֲווּ | כָּל דִּשְׁנֵי אֶרֶץ לְפָנָיו יִכְרְעוּ כָּל יוֹרְדֵי עָפָר וְנַפְשׁוֹ לֹא חִיָּה:

31.The seed that worships Him; it shall be told to the generation concerning the Lord.   לא.זֶרַע יַעַבְדֶנּוּ יְסֻפַּר לַאדֹנָי לַדּוֹר:

32.They shall come and tell His righteousness to the newborn people, that which He has done.   לב.יָבֹאוּ וְיַגִּידוּ צִדְקָתוֹ לְעַם נוֹלָד כִּי עָשָׂה:

Now, there are certainly disturbing words and images there, so let's unpack them in a right way to make sure there is no misconception.
THe verse you're referring to is 22:17 (though Christian bible has it as 22:16). Christian translation claims it says "For dogs have compassed me, the assembly of the wicked have enclosed me; they pierced my hands and my feet". Notice again 22:17 from the Hebrew original text:

17.For dogs have surrounded me; a band of evildoers has encompassed me, like a lion, they're at my hands and feet.   יז.כִּי סְבָבוּנִי כְּלָבִים עֲדַת מְרֵעִים הִקִּיפוּנִי כָּאֲרִי יָדַי וְרַגְלָי:

Notice that the English translation from the original Hebrew does not contain the word “pierced.” The King James version deliberately mistranslated the Hebrew word kaari (כָּאֲרִי) as “pierced,” rather than “like a lion,” thereby drawing the reader to a false conclusion that this Psalm is describing the Crucifixion. The Hebrew word כָּאֲרִי does not mean pierced but plainly means “like a lion. The end of Psalm 22:17, therefore, properly reads “like a lion they are at my hands and my feet.” Had King David wished to write the word “pierced,” he would never have used the Hebrew word kaari. Instead, he would have written either daqar or ratza, which are common Hebrew words in the Jewish Scriptures. These common words mean to “stab” or “pierce.” Needless to say, the phrase “they pierced my hands and my feet” is a not-too-ingenious Christian contrivance that appears nowhere in Tanach.

Bear in mind, this stunning mistranslation in the 22nd Psalm was not born out of ignorance. Christian translators were well aware of the correct meaning of this simple Hebrew word. They fully understood the meaning of the word כָּאֲרִי and deliberately twisted their translations of this text. The word kaari can be found in many other places in the Jewish scriptures and they correctly translated כָּאֲרִי “like a lion” in all places in Christian Bibles where this word appears with the exception of Psalm 22—the Church’s cherished “Crucifixion Psalm.”

For example, the identical word kaari is also found in Isaiah 38:13. In the immediate context of this verse King Hezekiah is singing a song for deliverance from his grave illness.In the midst of his supplication he exclaims in Hebrew “שִׁוִּ֤יתִי עַד־בֹּ֙קֶר֙ כָּֽאֲרִ֔י” Notice that the last word in this phrase (moving from right to left) is the same Hebrew word kaari that appears in Psalm 22:17. In this Isaiah text, however, the King James Version correctly translates these words “I reckoned till morning that, as a lion…” As mentioned above, Psalm 22:17 is the only place in all of the Jewish Scriptures that any Christian Bible translates kaari as “pierced.”

It must be noted that the authors of the New Testament were not responsible for inserting the word “pierced” into the text of Psalm 22:17. This verse was tampered with long after the Christian canon was completed. Bear in mind, during the latter half of the first century, when the New Testament writers were compiling their Greek manuscripts, Psalm 22:17 was still in pristine condition; thus, when the authors of the New Testament read this verse, they found nothing in the phrase “ like a lion they are at my hands and my feet” that would advance their teachings. As a result, Psalm 22:17 is never quoted in the New Testament. Missionaries, who insist that the Christian translation of this verse reflects the original words of King David, must wonder why there was not one New Testament author who deemed this supposed allusion to the crucifixion worthy of being mentioned in his writings.

A cursory reading of the entire 22nd Psalm reveals the extent to which this verse was subjected to reckless tampering. Throughout this chapter, King David routinely uses an animal motif to describe his enemies. The Psalmist’s poignant references to the “dog” and “lion” are, therefore, common metaphors employed by the Psalmist. In fact, David repeatedly makes reference to the “dog” and “lion” both before and after Psalm 22:17. For King David, these menacing beasts symbolize his bitter foes who continuously sought to destroy him. This metaphor, therefore, sets the stage for the moving theme of this chapter. Although David’s predicament at times seems hopeless, this faithful king relied on God alone for his deliverance. As the Psalmist eagerly looks to God for deliverance from his adversaries, he conveys the timeless message that it is the Almighty alone Who can save the faithful in times of tribulation.

There is another glaring issue with interpreting this psalm as relating to Jesus. Attributing the words with which it opens to Jesus is nonsensical, considering that most Christians consider Jesus and God to be one entity. In the beginning, the psalmist starts with:

“My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Why are You so far from helping me, and from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not hear; and in the night season, and am not silent.”

Why would Jesus complain that God is so far and cannot hear him? Is he not God? How can God, the first part of the Trinity, not hear the cries of Jesus, the second person of the Trinity? To whom would Jesus be complaining? To himself? And why would he then not be answering? In the verses that follow, David is enumerating all the times when God interceded on his behalf and is questioning why God would abandon him now. If God and Jesus were the same, how could God not understand his own predicament? And who would his ancestors be that are mentioned in verse 5? Frankly, even the most fertile of imaginations is strained when trying to attribute the words of Psalm 22 to Jesus in its entirety.

Jennifer, I would be happy to address each and every one of your questions. I think it's hugely important that you're asking these, and I am hoping these are sincere questions because you want to know. I don't have to believe anything; my point of view is that only knowledge and facts will help us get to the right place. I got facts; when I don't have them, I go look them up, and I'll be happy to share everything I know to help guide your decision making process.

Best,
Eli

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Eli Hadar

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If you are a Jewish person who has been approached by missionaries and who is considering leaving the Jewish faith, please let me know and I will help you see how beautiful and moreover how right the Jewish religion is. Don't leave the truth of your fathers before you resolve the facts for yourself, and I can help you on that journey.

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I have been involved in counter-missionary activity for several years, counseling many Jews who have left or have considered leaving Judaism having been attracted by other religions. I have been able to show the truth to these people through the correct reading of the texts (vs. deliberately wrong translations used by missionaries), through showing how missionaries manipulate the Jewish scriptures to achieve their goals, and through helping you rediscover the beauty and truth of authentic Judaism.

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Largely self-taught, I still am and will be learning for a long, long time. I have educated myself through a wealth of resources, including Nachmanides' Disputation, Hyam Maccoby's writings on Christianity and Judaism, as well as such vast resources as Outreach Judaism, Torah Atlanta, and a great number of others.

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