Criticism on Habakkuk 1:12


The missionaries for some strange reason love boasting about their thousands of Bible manuscripts, they assert that since the Bible has so many manuscripts, it serves as proof that the Bible cannot be corrupted or else the manuscripts would prove it (laugh laugh, it seems the missionaries haven’t been paying attention!), and it also makes them assert that so many manuscripts allow them to compare and be confident about the text of their Bible, since there are thousands of manuscripts to check them with.

The hebrew text says:

הֲלוֹא אַתָּה מִקֶּדֶם , יְהוָה אֱלֹהַי קְדֹשִׁי–לֹא נָמוּת; יְהוָה לְמִשְׁפָּט שַׂמְתּוֹ, וְצוּר לְהוֹכִיחַ יְסַדְתּוֹ.

The English text says:

Art thou not from everlasting, O Lord my God, mine Holy One? we shall not die. O Lord, thou hast ordained them for judgment; and, O mighty God, thou hast established them for correction.

The colored part in red ” we shall not die ” this word is a partial study, and we will examine the evidence, respectively, the external and internal

External evidence:

  • All evidence of the masoretic text reads we shall not die.
  • The text in the Qumran scrolls ( 1QpHab )
  • The Septuagint version have the same reading masoretic text:  Art not thou from the beginning, O Lord God, my Holy One? and surely we shall not die. O Lord, thou hast established it for judgment, and he has formed me to chasten with his correction.
  • Targum Jonathan started reading the Lord forever live became the sense that God is the one who does no´t die

הֲלָא אַת יוי בְרֵית עָלְמָא מִבְרֵאשִית אַת אֲלָהָא דַיָין קְשֹוט עַל כָל בִריָתָך קַדִיש בְעָבְדֵי הֵימָנוּתָא מֵימְרָך קַיָים לְעָלְמִיןיוי לְמַעֲבַד דִינָא בְרֵיתָהִיבריתיה****** בְרֵיתָהִי וְתַקִיף לְאִתפְרָעָא אַתקֵינתָהִ(1(

  • The Vulgate have same reading  Masoretic text 
Wast thou not from the beginning, O Lord my God, my holy one, and we shall not die? Lord, thou hast appointed him for judgment: and made him strong for correction (2)
  • The Syriac Pashita doesn’t have the part

Art thou not from everlasting, O LORD my God, my holy one art thou without a law, O LORD? for thou hast ordained them for judgment, and thou hast created us for chastisement (3)

Internal evidence:

After have seen that all the evidence of texts, except Syriac Pashita, Biblical scholars admit that reading (we shall not die) is misreading, and this condition is called upon scholars” the eighteen emendations ” this has been repeated eighteen times in the Old Testament

 The eighteen emendations are : Gen 18:22, Num 11:15, 12:12, 1Sam 3:13, 2Sam 16:12, 20:1, 1Kings 12:16, 2Chr 10:16, Jer 2:11, Ezek 8:17, Hos 4:7, Hab 1:12, Zech 2:8, Mal 1:12, Psa 116:20, Job 7:20, 32:3, Lam 3:20 (4)

A Critical and Exegetical Commentary writes;

נמותnoted by Mas. as tikkun sopherim M (5)

A. R. Fausset says:

This reading is one of the eighteen called by the Hebrews “the appointment of the scribes”;the Rabbis think that Ezra and his colleagues corrected the old reading, “Thou shalt not die.“ (6)

 D. Ginsburg, Christian says:

All the ancient records emphatically state that this exhibits the corrected te xt by the Sopherim and that the original reading was: ‘Art thou not from everlasting? O Lord my God, mine Holy One, thou diest not.’ The parallelism plainly shows that this is the correct reading. The address in both clauses is to the Lord who is described in the first clause as being from everlasting and in the second clause as never dying or enduring for ever. The introduction, therefore, of a new subject in the plural with the predicate ‘we shall not die’ thus ascribing immortality to the people is contrary to the scope of the passage . . . The reason for the alteration is not far to seek.It was considered offensive to predicate of the Lord ‘thou diest not.’ Hence ‘we shall not die’ was substituted (7)

Rabbi Rashi said in this Issue:

Who shall not die. Now, the reason it is written לֹא נָמוּתwe shall not die, is that it is one of the emendations of the scribes in Scr ipture euphemizes. Likewise, (Mal. 1:13) “And you sadden it.” And so are many of them [these euphemisms] explained in Sifre (Num. 10:35). According to the emendation of the scribes, this is its explanation: Are you not my God from everlasting, my Holy One? Do not deliver us into their hands to die (8)

 NET Bible writes:

The MT reads, “we will not die,” but an ancient scribal tradition has “you [i.e., God] will not die.” This is preferred as a more difficult reading that can explain the rise of the othervariant. Later scribes who copied the manuscr ipts did not want to associate the idea of death with God in any way, so they softened the statement to refer to humanity (9)

In book the Old Testament in the Jewish Church:

again, in Habakkuk i. 12, where our version and the present Hebrew text read, ” Art thou not from everlasting, Jehovah my God, my Holy One? We shall not die,” the tradition tells us that the expression should have been, ” Thou canst not die,” which was changed because it seemed irreverent to mention the idea of God dying, even in order to negative it (10)


  1.  Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon: Targum Jonathan to the Prophets. Hebrew Union College, 2005; 2005, S. Hab 1:12
  3. Lamsa Translation : Hab 1 : 12
  4. J Fitzmeyer, S.J., Raymond E. Brown.: The Jerome Biblical Commentary, Vol.1,S.S., 1968, page: 297
  5.  Smith, J. M. Powis ; Ward, William Hayes ; Bewer, Julius August: A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Micah, Zephaniah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Obadiah and Joel. New York : C. Scribner’s Sons, 1911, S. 12
  6. A. R. Fausset.: Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible: Hab 1 : 12
  7. D. Ginsburg, Christian. : Introduction To The Massoretico-Critical Edition Of The Hebrew Bible : Trinitarian Bible Society 1897
  8. Rashi on Hab 1:12
  9. Biblical Studies Press: The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible. Biblical Studies Press, 2006; 2006
  10. The Old Testament in the Jewish church  (1892) by William Robertson Smith


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