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Friday, January 29, 2010

Zech. 12:10 "...they shall look upon me whom they have pierced."

Zechariah 12:10

Jehovah God speaks:

"...they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son" -  Zech. 12:10,  KJV; cf.  NKJV,  NIV, NASB, NEB, REB, ASV, AB, KJIIV, ETRV, Douay, Beck, Rotherham, Lamsa.

This is interpreted by many trinitarians as meaning that Jehovah is Jesus since Jesus was "pierced" by the Jews.

Unfortunately for this trinitarian interpretation even many trinitarian translations disagree:

"...when they look upon him whom they have pierced" - RSV.  Also in agreement with this rendering are NRSV; GNB; MLB; NAB (1970); NAB (1991); LB;  Mo; AT; JB; NJB; NLV; BBE; and Byington.   (ASV says in a footnote for "me" in Zech. 12:10: "According to some MSS. [manuscripts], `him'."  Also see Rotherham footnote.)

Even the context tells us that the latter rendering is the correct one.  Notice that after saying that they will look upon me (or him) God continues with "they shall mourn for HIM"!  Notice how the KJV (and those following its tradition) contradicts itself here.  The "me" in the first half simply does not agree with the "him" of the second half.  Since there has never been any question about the accuracy of the word "him" in the second half, the disputed word of the first half (which has manuscript evidence for both renderings) must also properly be rendered as "him" (or "the one").

The testimony of the first Christian writers to come after the NT writers (the `Ante-Nicene Fathers') confirms the non-trinitarian translation of Zechariah 12:10 ("him").  Ignatius, Irenaeus, and Tertullian (repeatedly) rendered Zech. 12:10 as "him whom they pierced"!  This is specially significant because trinitarian scholars and historians claim these particular early Christians (including Origen who doesn't quote Zech. 12:10 at all in his existing writings) are the very ones who actually began the development of the trinity doctrine for Christendom!  If any of the earliest Christian writers, then, would use a trinitarian interpretation here, it would certainly be these three.  Since they do not do so, it must mean that the source for the `look upon me' translation originated even later than the time of Ignatius, Irenaeus, and Tertullian (early 3rd century A.D.)!

The OT Greek Septuagint uses "me" (in existing copies, at least - 4th century A.D. and later), but it is significantly different from the Hebrew text: "They shall look upon me, because they have mocked me, and they shall make lamentation for him, as for a beloved [friend], and they shall grieve intensely, as for a firstborn [son]." - Zech.  12:10, Septuagint, Zondervan, 1976 printing.  In other words, (1) they will look upon  God whom they have mocked [not "pierced"] as their judgment arrives and (2) they will mourn Christ.  The two are not the same person here, nor the same God!

"The [Hebrew] text of Zech. 12:10 is corrupt.  The [Greek] LXX text reads: ... (`they shall look upon me whom they have treated spitefully') .... The text in [Jn 19:37] does not follow the LXX; but it has also avoided the impossible [`me'] of the Hebrew text." - p. 195, John 2, Ernst Haenchen, Fortress Press, 1984.
Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar says:
"138. The relative Pronoun.... (2) Not depending on a governing substantive, but itself expressing a substantial idea. Clauses introduced in this way may be called independent relative clauses.  This use of [asher] is generally rendered in English by `he who,' `he whom,' &c....  In Z[echariah] 12:10 also, instead of the unintelligible [`elai eth asher,' `to me whom'], we should probably read [`el asher,' `to him whom'], and refer this passage to this class [of 'independent relative clauses']." -  pp. 444, 445, 446.

And noted trinitarian scholar Dr. F. F. Bruce tells us:

"But in John 19:37 the piercing is interpreted of the piercing of Christ's side with a soldier's lance after His death on the cross, and here Zech. 12:10 is expressly quoted: `And again another scripture says, "They shall look on him whom they have pierced".'  It is a reasonable inference that this is the form in which the Evangelist knew the passage, and, indeed, the reading `him' instead of `me' appears in a few Hebrew manuscripts.  The R.S.V. thus has New Testament authority for its rendering of Zech.12:10 , `And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of compassion and supplication, so that, when they look on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a first-born.'  Why then is the R.S.V. criticized for conforming to the New Testament here?  Because, if the reading `me' be retained, the reference would be to the speaker, who is God, and in view of the application of the passage in the New Testament, there are some who see here an anticipation of the Christian doctrine of our Lord's divine nature. The reading `me' is certainly quite early, for it appears in the Septuagint (which otherwise misses the point of the passage); but the New Testament seems to attach no significance to Zech. 12:10 as providing evidence for the deity of Christ....  And, whoever the pierced one is, the fact that he is referred to elsewhere in the verse in the third person (`they shall mourn for him....and weep bitterly over him') suggests that he is Yahweh's representative (probably the anointed king), in whose piercing Yahweh Himself is [figuratively] pierced." - History of the Bible in English, pages 199, 200, Lutterworth Press, 1979, third edition.  [Emphasis mine – RDB]

The JPS translation in Tanakh (NJV) also reveals that the text of Zech 12:10 is corrupt. The NJV (New Jewish Version or Tanakh published by the Jewish Publication Society) is highly praised for its accuracy by noted trinitarian Bible scholars Sakae Kubo and Walter F. Specht in their popular book So Many Versions? which analyzes and critiques modern Bibles:
"The NJV is a monument to careful scholarship .... It ranks as one of the best translations of the Hebrew Bible [the Old Testament] available." - p. 143, SMV, Zondervan Publ.. 

A footnote in the Tanakh says that the Hebrew sometimes rendered "when they look upon" is uncertain. Although it also uses the pronoun "me," it renders Zech 12:10,

"they shall lament to Me about those who are slain, wailing over them as over a favorite son and showing bitter grief as over a first-born." - Jewish Publication Society, 1985.

But most important of all is John 19:37 (even in the KJV) where this scripture has been quoted by John!  All translations show John here translating Zech. 12:10 as "They shall look upon him [or `the one'] whom they pierced."  So we have this Apostle and inspired Bible writer telling us plainly (and undisputed even by trinitarian scholars) that Zechariah 12:10 should read: "They shall look upon  him (not `me')."  Therefore, Jehovah is speaking in Zech. 12:10 of someone else who will be pierced - not Himself!

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