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Psalms 31:6 in a Tanakh is beyadcha afkid ruchi, padita orti, adonai el emet. The same verse in an English Bible is at 31:5 because they skip what is 31:1 in a Tanakh. Which is correct?

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2 Answers 2

In general the Jewish practice is to "number" the introduction of each Psalm, such as "Mizmor l"David/A Psalm of David", while the Christian practice is to begin the enumeration after the introductory phrases. Accordingly for most of the book of Psalms the Jewish enumeration of the verses is one different the Christian enumeration. This isn't a matter of English versus Hebrew. Jewish translations will follow the "Hebrew" count as well.

I will try to confirm that this is the correct explanation in this situation.

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It is indeed. The first pasuk of Psalm 31 is למנצח מזמור לדוד, "For the conductor, a psalm by David." So yes, the KJV and other non-Jewish versions don't count this as a verse. (There are even chapters of Tehillim where the count is off by two, because the heading is two pesukim long - for example, chs. 52, 54, and 60.) –  Alex May 18 '10 at 3:53
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Sometimes, the introduction is only part of the first verse (e.g. Psalms 23 and 29), in which case the numbering is the same even though there's an introduction. –  Chanoch May 18 '10 at 13:59

From the yutorah lecture by Rabbi Dr. Shneur Leiman on the Dead Sea Scrolls:

There are occasional differences in the text between ours of Tanach (known as the Masoretic text) and the King James Bible (and other Christian Bibles). The Christian Bibles are generally based on the Greek translation.

With the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, we now have the Bible text that was used by the non-mainstream splinter group of Jews who lived in what's now Qumran. (Some say they were Boethusians, some say Sadducees, etc.; they clearly had some different practices than the Perushim, who were the mainstream.) Their text tends to match the Christian one in places it differs from our text (e.g. a verse with "nun" in Ashrei, Psalm 145.)

A skeptic would probably claim that the Christian/Qumranic text is the more accurate one. Chas V'Shalom. A more mainstream-Judaism-friendly explanation is that when the Christians formed their Bible, they used the text of a splinter group such as the Qumran folks, not the mainstream. (Which gets us into questions about the formation of early Christianity, which is a big, messy, complicated topic.)

Does that answer your question?

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Woops. See above answer; in this case it's just a matter of counting. But there are places where the texts in fact differ (like the nun in Ashrei). Right answer, wrong question. –  Shalom May 18 '10 at 12:31
    
Christians originally used the Septuagint; nowadays most Christian translations are based on the Masoretic text. This includes the King James Version. –  TRiG Jul 29 '12 at 4:08
    
To clarify and repeat, Christian Bibles are not generally based on the Greek. Their structure (book ordering) may be, I don't know, but the actual translation is generally done from the same Masoretic Text that you use. –  TRiG Aug 31 '12 at 18:15

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