Hebrew Highlights 75 – HIS SHEEP
Shalom. This is Yuval Shomron, coming to you from Jerusalem.
PSA 100:1-5, “(A Psalm for Thanksgiving.) Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth. Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before Him with joyful singing. Know that the Lord Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving, And His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him; bless His name. For the Lord is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting, And His faithfulness to all generations.”
This is one of the many scriptures with a mistake in it. Now, hang on just a minute before you get upset with me. Let me explain. When Hebrew scribes hand copied the bible on Parchment, it was a months long work of love and discipline. However, once in a great while, they actually made a mistake. Usually this mistake was either in spelling or in the vowel markings under the Hebrew letters. Instead of scratching out the word, they would simply make a small mark referring to a footnote at the bottom of the paragraph. You cannot erase ink from parchment.
Traditionally, these mistakes were not corrected by the next scribe copying from the new scroll. He simply copied what he saw, including the previous error and its associated footnote. Each scribe added His own mistakes, and this tradition continued over the centuries. Today, the printed Hebrew Bible has tiny footnotes on a majority of the pages.
You might ask, “Why weren’t the mistakes corrected?”. Well, since the Bible was originally passed down orally, there can often be arguments over whether the error itself, or the corrected footnote is actually right.
Verse three in Psalm 100 offers a very good example. In the New American Standard Bible I read, “It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.” The Revised Standard Version says, “It is he that made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.”
The problem lies in one tiny little Hebrew word, “Lo”. In the main page in the Hebrew Bible it is spelled “Lamed Aleph”, meaning “not”, but the scribe’s footnote tells us he meant to spell it “Lamed Vav”, meaning “His”. So, when we read “velo anachunu”, it either means “we are His” or “not we”. Take into account that there are no commas in the original Hebrew, and you can understand why translators have a difficult job indeed.
Remember again that the Bible was passed down orally. We know from the Dead Sea Scrolls, that the Bible we have today is amazingly an exact replica of the oldest manuscript available. The Jewish people’s care and love for the Torah carried a very reputable version of God’s words through the millennia.
In the case of Psalm 100, both translations are viable. Both are true. God made us, not we ourselves. We need to remember His greatness, and our dependence on Him. It is also right to say He made us and we are His. After all, we owe our very lives to Him.
Now I am going to make what you might call an educated, prophetic guess, trying to put myself in the psalmist’s shoes. I’m also going to allow for the numerous bits of humor, puns, and other word plays found in the original Hebrew texts.
Okay, here goes. I actually believe that the composer of Psalm 100’s five beautiful worship verses meant for us to use our own imagination. In other words, each hearer would receive the Word of God according to his or her own interpretive need at the time.
Who is right? Well I’m afraid that in the end, if you really want to know, you’ll have to add this to the long list of questions you plan to ask when you get to heaven.
Shalom, Shalom , from Jerusalem.