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Was Jesus’ Piercing Prophesied?

by Daryl E. Witmer

One way to validate the truth of Christianity would be to conclusively demonstrate that the Christian Bible is true revelation from God, right?

One way to validate the Christian Bible as true revelation from God would be to conclusively demonstrate the case for fulfilled Bible prophecy, right?

One way to validate the case for fulfilled Bible prophecy would be to conclusively demonstrate that the scenes described in Psalm 22 became reality in the Gospels, right?

The 22nd Psalm was written by David, King of Israel.

David, King of Israel, died circa 961 B.C.1

The Gospels were written in the first century A.D., as per MSS data.

Psalm 22 was written nearly 1000 years before the Gospel accounts.

Attributing the uncanny match between so much of Psalm 22 (vv. 7-8, 14-18; especially verse 16!) and the crucifixion scene of Jesus to anything other than Divine inspiration.

Crucifixion was not even devised as a form of capital punishment until  600 B.C., and then by the Phoenicians and Carthaginians.2

“Actual records of the Roman Empire tell us that in the year of Christ’s crucifixion there were 350 people
put to death in that manner by the Romans, as this was their official form of [capital] punishment. The population of the Roman Empire at that point in history was 85,000,000. So the odds of anyone being crucified that year [were] 1 in 242,857.”3

Psalm 22:16 is inaccurately rendered in Christian Bibles. It doesn’t really say anything about hands or feet being “pierced.” No big deal here.

Christian Bibles translate the very last phrase of Psalm 22:16 this way: “They pierced my hands and my feet.”

Jewish Bibles render the exact same phrase as follows: “Like a lion, they are at my hands and my feet.”

Why the difference? Who is right? Which is correct? Here’s where a little primer in ancient Hebrew becomes important.

The Hebrew term kaaru means: “they have pierced.” The Hebrew term kaari means: “like a lion.”

The two Hebrew terms are identical except for the fact that kaaru ends with the Hebrew letter vav, and
kaari ends with the Hebrew letter yod.

Vav and yod are essentially alike except for the fact that vav has a long “tail” on its end. Yod does not. (Read Hebrew right to left.)

It’s quite likely that at some point a scribe, tediously copying Hebrew text, inadvertently or otherwise, failed to attach that longer, vertical, descending line to the vav, thus rendering the vav a yod. This changed the meaning of the Massoretic Text, or standard text, which is the basis for the Jewish Bible.

But isn’t it possible that it was actually the Christians who manipulated the Hebrew text in order to support the story of Jesus’ death by crucifixion?

Not likely, for two reasons:

The Greek version of the Scriptures, known as the Septuagint (LXX), was authored by Jewish scholars in 250 B.C., long before the time of Jesus, and the Septuagint renders the text with kaaru, i.e. “they pierced.”

The phrase “they are at my” is not in the Massoretic Text, and “like a lion my hands and my feet” makes no sense. Even if those four words were there, the idea of lions being at one’s hands and feet is nonsensical.

Psalm 22:16, written about 1000 years before Jesus’ crucifixion, really does refer to the one aspect of crucifixion that is unique. No other form of human execution involves the piercing of the hands and feet.

In combination with the rest of Psalm 22 and the account of Jesus’ death, we have here a dramatic demonstration of fulfilled Bible prophecy and, thus, the Divine origin of the Christian Scripture.

Sources and Resources
1 Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia, ©1998 Grolier Interactive Inc.
2 Ibid
3 An Engineer Evaluates the Bible, M. B. Bleecker, Wanaque NJ, former aeronautical engineer answers/qa/ps22.htm /ot/psalms/gary/psalm22-1.htm
The Pulpit Commentary, ©2001
AGES Software Rio, CD-ROM.
Clarke’s Commentary, Abingdon Press