“For dogs have surrounded me; the assembly of the wicked have encircled me, they pierced my hands and feet.”
(KJV Psalms 22:17)
Missionaries use this passage to convince the unwitting Jew that right there in his own Tanach is an allusion to the crucifixion of Jesus! What the translators have done is take the phrase ילגרו ידי יראכ, which means, “Like a lion my hands and my feet,” and intentionally mistranslate יראכ to mean “pierced.” The word for pierced in Tanach is רקד. In misappropriating this word to conform to their agenda they have even extracted the letter א in order to read the word as if it were ירכ. Any cheder student knows that the word ירכ means, “to dig,” as we indeed find in (Exodus 21:33), and not “to pierce,”
Moreover, the astute student should express skepticism at being presented this verse as a messianic-type prophecy, for there is nothing to indicate in this chapter of Psalms that King David is relating anything more than his own travails as he is being pursued by his enemies. Any attempt to attach prophetic meaning to these verses is to take them out of context, which is precisely what the Christian translators have done here.
In the Book of Romans of the New Testament, Paul wants to draw our attention to a passage in Isaiah that seems to define the major role of the Messiah:
“And thus all Israel will be saved; just as it is written “The Deliverer will come from Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob. And this is My covenant with them, When I take away their sins.”
What Paul is doing is trying to establish that that the Messiah will somehow take away our sins, the major tenet of Christianity.
A closer look at the actual verse in Isaiah reveals quite a different picture:
“A Redeemer will come to Zion and to those who turn from transgression in Jacob, declares the Lord.”
The Messiah’s role in Judaism has never been understood to take away our sins. We are taught, just the opposite, when we put aside our sins then the Messiah will come! It is significant that many Christian translations of Isaiah have this translated correctly, while Paul in Romans insists on advancing his agenda.
We can have seen ample selections to demonstrate this pattern of distortion associated with the writers of Christian Scriptures. For that reason alone, it is imperative we express to our charges the importance of learning Tanach in its original language and context. There are many other examples of distorted proof-texts, and we will share some more of them in the pages to follow.