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A body you have prepared for me


Recently, I was asked to review a passage in the Psalms of David, and a great question was asked. The question was: Shouldn’t the passage which is translated to say my ears have you opened really read a body you have prepared for me?  And the questioner followed up with an additional reference to Ivriym (Hebrews) 10:6.

Let’s take a look first at the Masoretic text.

Tehilliym (Psalms) 40:6 
זבח (zebach - sacrifice) ומנחה (v’minchah – and grain offering) לא (lo - not) חפצת (chapets’oth - bends) אזנים (etsniym – the ears) כרית (carah - dig) לי  עולה (Li olah – the rising smoke) וחטאה (v’chatah – and sin) לא (lo - not) שׁאלת׃ (shaloth - demand)

So, the plain reading is as follows:

The sacrifice and the offering do not bend the ears; the making of rising smoke as a sin offering is not demanded.

Now, let’s take a look at the Septuagint which is actually found at 39:6 (39:7 in the Greek):

39:6 Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not; but a body hast thou prepared me: whole-burnt-offering and [sacrifice] for sin thou didst not require.

39:7 θυσίαν καὶ προσφορὰν  οὐκ (οὖς -  ear) ἠθέλησας, σῶμα δὲ κατηρτίσω μοι· ὁλοκαυτώματα καὶ περὶ ἁμαρτίας οὐκ ἐζήτησας.

So, the Greek reads more like Sacrifice and offerings do not come on, but a body you have prepared for me, burnt offerings and sin offerings are not required.

The Masoretic text may have construed this passage initially from the Greek!  If they read οὖς instead of οὐκ, they would get not in the ear. However, the phrase sóma dé katirtíso moi – a body you have prepared for me is in fact flatly omitted.  

However, before we acquiesce to the Septuagint as completely dispositive, let us again consider the passage in Vayiqra (Leviticus) 17:11.

Vayiqra (Leviticus) 17:11 (Eth CEPHER) 
For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that makes an atonement for the soul.

17:11 For the life of flesh is its blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for its blood shall make atonement for the soul.

However, now consider the Masoretic text:

Lev 17:11 כי (Kee) H3588  נפשׁ (nephesh) H5315  הבשׂר (ha’besor) H1320  בדם (b’dam) H1818  הוא (hu) H1931  ואני (v’ani) H589  נתתיו (nathan) H5414  לכם  על (al lekem) H5921  המזבח (ha’mitsbeach) H4196  לכפר (l’kaphar) H3722  על (al) H5921  נפשׁתיכם (nephesh’oth’iciym) H5315  כי (kee) H3588  הדם (ha’dam) H1818  הוא (hu) H1931  בנפשׁ (b’nephesh) H5315  יכפר׃ (y’kaphar).

Kee [For] nephesh [soul] ha’besor [the flesh] b’dam [in blood], hu [he] v’ani [and I] nathan [give] al lekem [the bread?] ha’mitsbe’ach [the altar], l’kaphar [as atonement] al [for] nephesh’oth [your souls] kee [for] ha’dam [the blood] hu [he] b’nephesh [in soul] y’kaphar [is atonement].

For the soul of the flesh is in the blood, he and I give as bread on the altar as atonement for your souls, for the blood of him is atonement in the soul.

Now we see that we have an omission on the part of the Septuagint.  Interesting dilemma.  We at the Cepher Publishing Group look to these things in the Septuagint to make improvement where we can.  But bear in mind, it is on a verse-by-verse basis.

Finally, there is a call to reference the similarities between Tehilliym (Psalms) 40:6 and Ivriym (Hebrews) 10:6.

Ivriym (Hebrews) 10:5-6 
Wherefore when he came into the world, he said: In sacrifice and offering you would have no delight, but a body have you prepared me: 6 In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin you have had no pleasure.

Compare again:

Tehilliym (Psalms) 39:6 (Septuagint) 
Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not; but a body hast thou prepared me: whole-burnt-offering and [sacrifice] for sin thou didst not require.

Ultimately, we can conclude that the author of Ivriym relied on the Septuagint to make the quote.

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