Daniel 8:14 and the Cleansing of the Sanctuary

Our Historic Position Strengthened. Part III of this series.

W.E. Read, Retired Administrator


ON MORE than one oc­casion in this series of articles, we have em­phasized that the LXX translations give katha­rizo as the translation of tsadaq in Daniel 8:14. This undoubtedly has been one of the strong­est points.

This use by the LXX of the translation of katharizo for tsadaq, however, is about as isolated as the word "cleansed" in the K.J.V. It is the only place where they so rendered the verbal form of the Hebrew word tsadaq. Furthermore, it has been felt by many Biblical and other scholars that the LXX was not too reliable anyway. It was felt that there were many interpreta­tions and also excisions, as well as quite a number of inexact and, as some contended, careless translations. Their judgment in this matter was mainly because the LXX text differed from the Masoretic text, from which the Old Testament in our English Bibles was translated. One passage among others quoted in the New Testament that led Bible translators and others to enter­tain such questions was Hebrews 1:6. There we read: "When he [God] bringeth the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him." This text, as well as others in this chapter, is quoted by the author of He­brews to highlight the deity of our Lord. It will be noted that it is something God had said, and the conclusion would be that this was from the Old Testament, as were the other Scripture references the writer had quoted. Some of the margins of the K.J.V. refer the reader to Deuteronomy 32:43, but the expression is not to be found there, nor is it in the Masoretic text. It was in the LXX, however, and so on this account many Bible students felt that the charge concerning interpolations was justified. Of course, this seeming cer­tainty was postulated on the basis that the Masoretic text was the text, and perhaps the only ancient Hebrew text of the Holy Scriptures.

Now this has changed, and we can thank God for the findings in the caves at Qumran. These discoveries have revealed many interesting findings. One of them pertains to this very passage quoted in the book of Hebrews. The story is told by F. F. Bruce. Referring to Hebrews 1:6, he writes:

But the LXX text [has it]—It was based on a Hebrew original, as is now made clear by the dis­covery of a copy of this chapter of Deuteronomy in the fourth cave at Qumran, exhibiting a Hebrew text corresponding closely to the LXX?

He remarks further:

As the Biblical manuscripts from Qumran have been studied, it has become possible to distinguish three main types of text among them. One is the ancestor of the consonental text which formed the basis of the Masorete's editorial work. Another is the type of text which must have lain before the men who produced the Greek translation commonly called the Septuagint. . . . And the third type, con­fined to the first five books of the Old Testament, is closely related to the Samaritan Pentateuch'

Then he raises this question:

What is the value of the Septuagint for us? . . .

It represents an underlying Hebrew text over a thousand years older than our Masoretic manu­scripts.'

This testimony is confirmed by Wil­liam F. Albright, as follows:

We now know that in the fragments so far de­scribed from the Pentateuch and the former proph­ets . . the Greek translations were almost slavish in their literalism. . . . When we find sections pre­served in the LXX ... that are missing in the M.T. [Masoretic text], . . . we may thus be reasonably certain that they are not inner Greek additions or corruptions, but go back to an older Hebrew revi­sion which differed from the M.T.4

It is really remarkable how quietly and unostentatiously God is verifying His own word of truth. In the light of this discovery, then, we may rest better satisfied with what the LXX translators did in Daniel 8:14 where they translated the Hebrew tsadaq as "cleansed"—katharizo.

We will now give study to some other important aspects of this question, for there may be a very basic and fundamental reason why the translators of the LXX did what they did.

1. The Aramaic Background of the LXX Translators

A very important principle in Biblical interpretation has been expressed by one Hebrew scholar:

In Hebrew, as in all languages, a word may take on different meanings in different contexts, but this has not always been recognized. . . .

The translators of the Old Testament ... had ... an intricate and difficult task [with] the numerous items of vocabulary and syntax in both English and Hebrew . . to keep in mind to be certain that he is carefully interpreting the original,"

This is vital, and its significance will be apparent as we study the linguistic back­ground of those Jewish scholars who trans­lated the LXX.

We know that they must have been well versed in both Hebrew and Greek, but one thing not often remembered is that they had a strong Aramaic background, as well. Aramaic was actually learned at their mother's knee.

When Israel went into captivity in 605 B.c., they naturally mingled with the peo­ple of Babylon. In the area where they were located Aramaic was evidently the language spoken. This they adopted, and as a matter of fact, when they returned from captivity there was almost a new generation and they had practically forgotten their He­brew. Shortly after the return, when they stood before Nehemiah, they could not un­derstand the Hebrew scrolls that were read; everything had to be translated into Ara­maic. This can be seen in Nehemiah 8:8: "They read in the Book of the Law of God, with an interpreter who translated the meaning" (Fenton).

This is mentioned many times in the Jewish writings.' The translation made at that time was called a Targum, which ac­tually is an interpretative translation. We read in the Jewish Encyclopedia:

Targum: The Aramaic translation of the Bible. It forms a part of the Jewish traditional literature, and in its inception is as early as the time of the Second Temple. . . . The use of the term "Targum" by itself was restricted to the Aramaic version of the Bible. . . . The reading of the Bible text combined with the Targum in the presence of the congregation assembled for public worship was an ancient institution.'

Seeing that Aramaic became the com­mon language of Israel during the Cap­tivity, and seeing it was about three cen­turies later that the LXX was translated after their return from exile, it can quite readily be seen that the Jewish leaders to whom was committed the important task of translating the Holy Scriptures into Greek knew Aramaic and knew it even before they knew Hebrew or Greek—in fact, it was their mother tongue. This fact undoubt­edly had quite a bearing on why they did what they did in Daniel 8:14 when they translated tsadaq as "cleansed." This we will now study.

2. The Synonym for Tsadaq in Aramaic

In the Aramaic Targums tsadaq is quite often translated as zakah. These words are evidently used as synonyms in many in­stances. Tsadaq,s as we have seen, has as its primary meaning, "to justify," "to make righteous." As secondary meanings, it is "lawful" (Isa. 49:24); 'even" (Job. 31: 6); "cleansed" (Dan. 8:14). Zakah9 has a primary meaning of "to cleanse," to purify," and secondary meanings of "to jus­tify," "to make righteous."

The following few instances will illus­trate this:

Job 4:17: "Shall mortal man be more just than God?" Hebrew text—tsadaq; Ara­maic text—zakah.

Psalm 36:10: "O continue . . . thy right­eousness to the upright in heart." Hebrew text—tsedaqah; Aramaic text—zakah.

Psalm 51:4: "That thou mightest be jus­tified when thou speakest." Hebrew text­tsadaq; Aramaic text—zakah.

Isaiah 61:10: "He [God] hath covered me with the robe of righteousness." He­brew text—tsedaqah; Aramaic text— zakah.

Psalm 119:137: "Righteous art thou, 0 Lord." Hebrew text—tsaddiq; Aramaic text —zakah.

This gives an illustration of the use and translation of each.

3. The Use of Zakah for Tsadaq in the Targums

The Hebrew word tsadaq in its various forms is used about 517 times in the He­brew Bible, but we were able to examine only 504 of these, because about 13 were in the books of Daniel, Ezra, and Nehe­miah, on which there are no Targums Of the 504 instances, it was found that the Targum translators used zakah for tsadaq, et cetera, 209 times, and these are distrib­uted as follows:

In the Pentateuch .... 25 Times

In Joshua to Chronicles ... 21 Times

In Job to Proverbs In Psalms... 25 Times

In Isaiah...  47 Times

In Jeremiah and Ezekiel .... 45 TImes

In Ecclesiastes, Lamentations, and the Minor Prophets ... 21 Times

Total= 20910

This is practically 40 per cent, and it can be seen that zakah applied to the righteous­ness of God, and also to that righteousness which He imputes and imparts to His be­lieving children—and this highest of all concepts, in addition to other phases such as purifying and cleansing. Zakah ap­pears in both the Hebrew and the Aramaic texts of Psalm 73:13, and is rendered "cleansed" in the K.J.V. It is also used in both for purity of doctrine in Job 11:4.

Inasmuch as these translators used Ara­maic for such a wide range of concepts, would it be thought strange and unusual, had there been a Targum on Daniel 8:14, that they could have used zakah? It seems as though the Septuagint translators thought they did when they gave katharizo an almost perfect synonym for zakah. This might be called an assumption. Granted, because actually we do not know what they would have done. However, in the light of the above data, it is quite prob­able, to say the least. This assumption, how­ever, might be carried further, as we shall see in the following paragraphs.

4.    The Word Cleanse as Used in the Bible in Relation to the Sanctuary

There are about 39 references to the con­cept of cleanse in relation to the sanctuary and Temple in ancient days. While differ­ent Hebrew words were used in the Maso­retic text and in the LXX, in the 33 in­stances we could examine, the word in the Targums was zakah. And this includes the use of the word in such phases of meaning as the cleansing of the priests, also of the people, and in addition, the cleansing of the altar, the tabernacle, and the vessels of the ministry. The word "cleanse" is seen twice in Leviticus 16, in verses 19 and 30, and the word "clean" once in verse 30. In each case, the Hebrew word taher is used; in the Targums the word used is zakah. Might this again indicate what the trans­lators would have done had there been a Targum " on Daniel, seeing verse 14 also deals with the sanctuary?

5.    The Use of the Verbal Form of Tsa­daq

It is recognized that the verbal form tsadaq is more restricted in meaning than the adjectival or substantive forms, and this fact is worthy of examination, espe­cially seeing it is the verbal form used in Daniel 8:14.

Tsadaq as a verb occurs about 40 times. In one case (Ps. 82:3) it is tsadaq in the Targums; in two others (Job 9:2; 2 Sam. 15:4) it is qoshet in the Aramaic, but in 35 of the 40 instances, it is zakah. Is this a further indication of what might have been done, had the Targum on Daniel been made?

But one further query:

6. Is There a Targum on Daniel?

It is true that there is no Targum on Daniel by Onkelos or by Jonathan ben Uz­ziel, and it is generally conceded that we must restrict the meaning of the word to the Targums translated to the days long, long ago. It has been used more freely, how­ever, in later years, and in general is applied by some to any interpretative transla­tion into either Arabic, Persian, or Turk­ish. In the early centuries a wealth of Jewish literature, in addition to the Holy Scriptures, was translated into these languages. Several of these manuscripts are extant and can be seen in some of the large libraries. Generally such manuscripts can be seen in the British Museum library, and two of them contain the complete book of Daniel, translated into Arabic, but written in Hebrew square characters (See pdf for figures). These are Nos.  1476 and 2377. What was done by the author or authors was to quote the Hebrew text, and then follow this with a paraphrase, or Targum. 

On looking at the accompanying plates the words in question, "sanctuary shall be cleansed," are underlined. The Hebrew text is just as our Masoretic text tsadaq qodesh; but the other text is zakah qodesh. These renderings were made by a Yemenite hand about the twelfth to the fourteenth century A.D. This translator evidently reflected the thinking not only of his day but of the days of earlier centuries.12

Again we remark that in the light of this data and particularly these two manuscripts, which might be called Targums, it is highly probable that had a Targum on this wonderful prophetic book been written in ancient days, it would undoubtedly have  had zakah instead of tsadaq in the sacred text.

It is interesting to note that in the year 1938, Frank Zimmerman, in his article on Daniel 8:14, stated:

 The translation therefore should have been here, "and the temple shall be cleansed," and so the LXX, 



1 F. F. Bruce, The Books and Parchments (Fleming Revell Co., 1964), p. 154.

2 Ibid., p. 123

3. Ibid., p. 156.

4. Quoted by Dewey M. Beegle, God's Word Into English  (Eerdmann's Publ; shing Co.. 1960).

5 Th. Meek. "Translating the Hebrew," Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. LXXIX, Part IV. December 1960  pp. 330-335.

6 See Talmud: Moed Katan 28b; Sanhedrin 94b; Nedarim 37b; Rosh Hoihana 27a; Berakoth 8a,b., etc.

7 Jewish, Encyclopedia, article "Targum." (See also Koelher and Baumgartner, Lexicon in Veteris Testament! Libros.}

8 Wm. Gesenius, Hebrew and Chaldean Lexicon; also Selig Newman, Hebrew and English Lexicon.

9 See Selig Newman, op. cit.; M. Jastrow. Dictionary of Targumim, Talmud, etc.: F. Zimmerman. Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. LVII, September, 1938, p. 262.

10 For a complete list of texts of tsadaq, rendered as zakah, see article entitled "Further Observations on Sadaq" in  Andrews University Seminary Studies, Vol. IV.. Jan., 1966,  pp. 29-36

11 There was no Targum on Daniel, because of what the Jews called a voice from heaven, a Bath Kol. forbidding
Jonathan ben Uzziel to do so. When he asked "Why?" he  was told, "Because the date of the Messiah is foretold
in it." Talmud Megillah 3a

12 See Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. LVII, September, 1938, p. 262, for a further study of tsadaq. 

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W.E. Read, Retired Administrator

May 1967

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