I was watching a video of an exegete in which he claimed that according to the Masoretic treatise Sefer Oklah we-Oklah in topic 168 in Ezra's corrections, there was a Tiqqun soferim in 1 Kings 12:16 and 2 Chronicles 10:16 in the Aleppo codices and Leningrad in which they changed the meaning of the expression “tents”, which were originally gods by modifying a consonant of place, stating that the copyists did not want the reader to feel compelled to idolatry by reading “To your gods, O Israel”. This same problem is found in 2 Samuel 20:1. Codex Cairensis also corroborates the passage of 1 Kings 12:16 being gods rather than tents through the massora regarding this text

The exegete is not accusing ben Asher of misrepresentation but someone else has.

Does Judaism recognize this situation and how do they respond to it?

1 Answer 1


I'm not exactly sure what you mean by "does Judaism recognize this situation" since Ochlah v'Ochlah is an ancient Masoretic book (here is the relevant page, by the way), but there are a couple of old references to this linguistic switch. One is a Tannaitic midrash (Yalkut Shimoni on Nach 106):

"תני ר' שמעון בן יוחאי אומר...איש לאהליו ישראל ולא לבית המקדש, אל תקרי לאהליו אלא לאלוהיו."
Said Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai..."every man to his tents O Israel" and not to the Temple, don't read "to his tents" but "to his [Elohim]1".

Another is much later, from the Rishonic period, by the Rashba (Teshuvot HaRashba, Mossad HaRav Kook edition, p. 182). During a discussion of 18 verses that were changed because scripture itself modified the language (כנה הכתוב - kinah hakatuv), he brings this verse:

"אין לנו חלק בדוד ולא נחלה בבן ישי איש לאהליו ישראל. איש לאלוהיו היה צריך לומר אלא שכינה הכתוב."
"“We have no portion in David, no share in Jesse’s son, every man to his tent, O Israel!” every man to his [Elohim]1 was supposed to be said, but scripture modified the language."

What does "scripture modifying the language" mean according to Rashba? He writes (p. 177):

"וכן כתוב שם, י"ח דברים כתובים במקרא ואינם כתובין כתקון, וחכמי ישראל קורין אותן תקון סופרים. לא שתקנו אותן, שמחקו וכתבו, אלא מה שכתב משה רבינו ע"ה בתורה ומה שכתבו הנביאים בשאר ספרים, מתחלה מה שכתבוהו על כנוי כתבוהו. והסופרים לא חסרו ולא יתרו ורק ראוין להיקרות בכנוי כתבן."
"And so it is written there (a certain book he was discussing), 18 things are written in Scripture and not written as corrections and the sages of Israel read them like scribal corrections. Not that they corrected them, i.e., that they erased and rewrote, but rather that what Moshe Rabbeinu peace be upon him wrote in the Torah and what the prophets wrote in other books, from the onset they wrote them in modified form. And the scribes did not add or detract and these [words] are only meant to be read as they were written (unlike other words, not in this group of 18, that are not read as written)."

In other words, this is not a scribal correction but something that was implemented by the authors themselves.

1 I put in square brackets Elohim because the word is לאלוהיו - L'elohav and it's tricky to understand whether this means "their gods" or "their God", since God is referred to with the partially pluralistic Elokim many times over.

  • I asked how Judaism recognizes this situation in the face of the idea of “biblical inerrancy”. If there are several ways to understand these texts in the light of these variants by the tradition that Moses passed on these expressions, it remains to be seen why they did not pass to the Masoretic pattern that we have in Aleppo and Leningrad the form that brings God or gods in the texts, what would be the problem? Unless the intention is theological to preserve someone's honor or to avoid encouraging a bad practice.
    – Thales
    Nov 7, 2022 at 17:59
  • @Thales okay, thanks for clarifying. So you should be asking: Does Judaism believe in Bible Inerrancy? The answer to that is complicated, like most things in Judaism. But I don't understand what you mean by "why they did not pass to the Masoretic pattern that we have in the Aleppo and Leningrad the form etc". The verses with the word "tents" appear, to my knowledge, in all Masoretic MSS. That means that the change is ancient. According to the sources I brought, it's so ancient that this is how it was first written in the years BCE.
    – Harel13
    Nov 7, 2022 at 18:08
  • Perhaps not, it is worth remembering that something similar occurs in 1 Samuel 3:13 where the Masoretic text says that the sons of Eli became cursed or cursed (other execrable versions) themselves, whereas in the Septuagint it says that the sons of Eli cursed the God, “Elohim” being for “them” a withdrawal from the alep and yud causes this difference. As for biblical inerrancy, I have always heard more from Christians than from Jews.
    – Thales
    Nov 7, 2022 at 18:14

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