Can you give me a link to where I can confirm that the Dead Sea Scrolls state 'they pierced' and not 'lion'?

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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic as a combination of Comparative Religion and Question about Hebrew Language. It seeks a proof text for Christianity, which is not on topic here.
    – Seth J
    Nov 2, 2015 at 20:47
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    This is an old question but (1) the question is poor, i.e., it lacks much context to even understand what this is about and (2) if the question is about what Christians think of the Dead Sea Scrolls is it really in scope for MY ?
    – mbloch
    Dec 30, 2017 at 18:19
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    @SethJ Asking for what different different textual versions of a classical Jewish text say, seems squarely on topic. The motivation may or may not be Chritian, but the question is not about Christianity, but about a Jewish text, and variants of it.
    – mevaqesh
    Dec 30, 2017 at 23:22
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    @SethJ As far as I know it is false to assert that "Judaism" has some canonical interpretation of a DSS. A given text of Psalms, or even a given interpretation, is hardly a proof for Christianity.
    – mevaqesh
    Dec 31, 2017 at 4:34
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    I am quite serious. Which point do you think is not serious? (Perhaps you misunderstood my usage of the term 'proof'. I meant it in the rigorous sense, as in mathematics. The fact that some passage mentions (and I am by no mans claiming it does) someone getting his hands pierced =/= Jesus is the Messiah). Of course it is used as "proof", but it isn't actually proof.@SethJ
    – mevaqesh
    Dec 31, 2017 at 4:59

2 Answers 2


Tehillim 22:17 (17 is the counting in Jewish editions) in the Masoretic text reads:

יז כִּי סְבָבוּנִי כְּלָבִים עֲדַת מְרֵעִים הִקִּיפוּנִי כָּאֲרִי יָדַי וְרַגְלָי

17 For dogs have surrounded me; a band of evildoers has encompassed me, like a lion, my hands and feet.

Rashi: like a lion, my hands and feet: As though they are crushed in a lion’s mouth, and so did Hezekiah say (in Isa. 38: 13): “like a lion, so it would break all my bones.”

(I cite Rashi above only for completeness and to show how the traditional Jewish interpretation. It is not needed for the answer to the question.)

The answer to your question is No. The assumption that the word "pierced" is in the Dead Sea Scrolls is not true. As we see in the following:

Dead sea scrolls and Psalm 22

Written by Uri Yosef, Psalms 22 - "Nailing" An Alleged Crucifixion Scenario Lesson notes

fragments containing Psalms 22:17[16] were discovered among the Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS). In the first fragment, which was found at Qumran (4QPs-f; known as the Qumran MS, the word in question is not preserved.

In the second fragment, found at Nahal Hever (HHev/Se 4 (Ps); known as the Bar Kochba MS, the word is preserved.

The fragment HHev/Se 4 (Ps) shows the Hebrew letters (kaf), (aleph), (resh), and what appears to be a somewhat elongated letter (yod), which some perceive to be the letter (vav).[3] Thus, the reading of this word would be either (ka'ari) or (ka'aru), respectively.

Although the latter of these two renditions of the term has been the focus of much controversy and discussion, it is a fact that no root verb exists which contains the letter (aleph) in it, conjugated in this fashion (3rd-person, plural masculine gender, past tense), with the meaning of they pierced, as rendered in most Christian translations.

Without the letter (aleph), and using, for the moment, the argument that the last letter [the elongated (yod)] is a (vav), the word would be (karu), for which the Hebrew root verb is (karah), [to] dig [in dirt], such as digging a ditch (e.g., Ps 57:7). In other words, (karu) has the meaning [they] dug [in dirt]. This verb is never used in the context of piercing, either literally or metaphorically, in any of its 15 applications in the Hebrew Bible.

What could cause such a variation between the two terms (ka'ari) and (ka'aru), i.e., with an elongated letter (yod) that resembles the letter (vav)? Since the word (ka'aru) does not exist in the Hebrew language, the most plausible explanation is that such discrepancy is simply a case of scribal variation (or error).

The word in Psalm 22 is ka'ari (lion) not karu (which means "to dig" BTW, as in digging a ditch, not pierce).

The Dead Sea Scroll version of the Psalm has kaari, but some Xians think it is kaaru because the yod is longer than normal and can be mistaken for a vav.

But here lies the problem: kaaru is NOT a word. There is no such word in Hebrew ancient or modern. Karu is a word -- but that isn't what is in the Dead Sea Scrolls or in any other Hebrew copy of the Psalm.

Ka'aru is not a word but karu IS a word. Some Xians try and say that the word in Psalm 22 should be karu. The only problem is that karu doesn't mean "pierced" either. It means to dig". If you use its cognate 3rd person plural masculine gender "KARU" it translates to they dug. But note that kara or karu do not us the letter "aleph".

Kaf-resh-vav is a word. Kaf-ALEPH-resh-vav is not a word. It is as if someone came upon dutg in English and wants to say it is dug.

BTW the KJV translates ka'ari correctly in other places that arent proof texts misquoted by the GT.

Numbers 23:24 (veka'ari), and I as a young lion

Numbers 24:9 (ka'ari), like a lion

Isaiah 38:13 (ka'ari), like a lion

Ezekiel 22:25 (ka'ari), like a lion

So the KJV translators correctly translated it until they got to Psalms 22:17[16] and suddenly the KJV doesn't know what it means and translates it as "they pierced."

One more little bit of Hebrew grammar. If the word really was "pierced," (which we've proven it is not) the sentence would have an "et" to identify the direct object which would be affected by that verb. There is no et.

  • 3
    @sabbahillel It was actually a Jewish translation written long before Christianity. See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Septuagint
    – b a
    Dec 30, 2017 at 19:14
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    @sabbahillel I don't see anywhere in the Wikipedia article that the Septuagint on Psalms was written by Christians, or even after the advent of Christianity. The fact that it was brought as a proof-text by Christians doesn't make it a Christian translation. Differences between the MT and Septuagint in details such as י and ו or ד and ר are very common and were either found in the Hebrew version the Septuagint translated from, or a misreading by the translator, but were not intentional Christian corruptions
    – b a
    Dec 31, 2017 at 9:07
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    @ba a misreading by the translator could not have been because the word translated as pierced does not exist in Hebrew and therefore could not have been read that way. See the link pointed to by mbloch if you do not trust the link that I reference. Dec 31, 2017 at 15:01
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    The Septuagint that we have today are shown to have been written much later. Modern critical editions of the Septuagint are based on the Codices Vaticanus, Sinaiticus, and Alexandrinus which were actually written centuries after christianity took over. Dec 31, 2017 at 15:03
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    @ba the point is that Rabbi Singer and many others are right that only nonJews would have made that misteak (sic) in the first place. Dec 31, 2017 at 16:32

I think you're referring to the Nachal Chever fragment. Here's a link to fragment 6 of 5/6Hev 1b 891. I gather that this is the word in question:

enter image description here

And here's a digitally enhanced version of the image, from an article on the topic by Rabbi Tovia Singer:

enter image description here

There's also this fragment from 4Q88 from Qumran, but the relevant word flaked off.

  • thanks, could you elaborate on what words are on that 4Q88 fragment and what words aren't?
    – barlop
    Jul 22, 2022 at 6:47
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    @barlop I don't have time now to find an expert reading, but from what I can make out, the last line that can still be read (above the bottom one which has flaked off), the words ]כלבים עדת מר can be seen. These are from Psalm 22:17, the verse in question, but the word in question, כארו/כארי is not on this fragment; it's later on in the verse.
    – Harel13
    Jul 22, 2022 at 14:01
  • thanks, I wonder if there's a bit of that כארו/כארי word in 4Q88 , for example see i.sstatic.net/8qdZ3.png shows הקיפוני כר and mentions it as being at 4Q88 f1_2:25 do you have any idea where that reference would be on https://www.deadseascrolls.org.il/ ? also, while I see the fragment you mentioned, Plate 1149, Frag 1 doesn't have any of the word ` כארו/כארי, it does have some of the verse. What led you to check, of 4Q88, specifically, Plate 1149, Frag 1` ?
    – barlop
    Jul 22, 2022 at 15:44
  • @barlop I can try to look up the fragment when I have more time, but that won't be for a few days. Why I checked 4Q88 - I really don't remember. I probably saw a reference to it somewhere.
    – Harel13
    Jul 22, 2022 at 16:13
  • hi, just a reminder if you have some time, to look it up? Thanks i.e. what hebrew letters/words of that verse are on 4Q88.. Like how Tovia Singer pointed to the hebrew words on the nahal hever fragment and wrote what the hebrew words they are.. i'd really like to know that for 4Q88
    – barlop
    Sep 18, 2022 at 0:21

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