Psalm 34 20

Parallel Verses

New American Standard Bible

He keeps all his bones, Not one of them is broken.

King James Version

He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken.

Holman Bible

He protects all his bones; not one of them is broken.

International Standard Version

God protects all his bones; not one of them will be broken.

A Conservative Version

He keeps all his bones. Not one of them is broken.

American Standard Version

He keepeth all his bones: Not one of them is broken.

Amplified

He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken.

Bible in Basic English

He keeps all his bones: not one of them is broken.

Darby Translation

He keepeth all his bones; not one of them is broken.

Jubilee 2000 Bible

Resh keeping all his bones; not one of them shall be broken.

Julia Smith Translation

He watched all his bones: one of them was not broken.

King James 2000

He keeps all his bones: not one of them is broken.

Lexham Expanded Bible

protects all his bones; not one of them is broken.

Modern King James verseion

He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken.

Modern Spelling Tyndale-Coverdale

He keepeth all his bones, so that not one of them is broken.

NET Bible

He protects all his bones; not one of them is broken.

New Heart English Bible

He protects all of his bones. Not one of them is broken.

The Emphasized Bible

Keeping all his bones, Not, one from among them, is broken.

Webster

He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken.

World English Bible

He protects all of his bones. Not one of them is broken.

Youngs Literal Translation

He is keeping all his bones, One of them hath not been broken.

bible.knowing-jesus.com

The question and the answers suffers from the assumption that the Psalms are prophecy, rather than statements of fact or faith, and also from the inconvenience that in context, Christologic explanations make no sense.

The theme of Psalm 34, written by King David, is God’s relationship with the righteous and evildoers. According to Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, Psalm 34 is derived from an event that took place in David’s own personal life (when he was running from Saul and sought shelter with King Abimelech’s kingdom by pretending to be a feeble-minded beggar). Despite his troubles, of which he has many, David nevertheless “glories in the Lord” (verse 3) and seeks to tell others that God will help them too should they choose a path of righteousness. David even gives advice for those who want to be righteous: “keep your tongue from evil and your lips from deceitful speech; keep away from evil and do good without hesitation; seek peace and pursue it.” Ps. 34:14-15.

But David’s psalm acknowledges that even the righteous will have troubles, as he has: “Many, too, are the ills of a righteous man, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.” Ps. 34:20. He finishes the Psalm at verses 22 and 23 asserting that evildoers will be destroyed by their own evil, and God will redeem the souls of His servants, and no one who takes refuge in God will be desolate.

I skipped over verse 21. If it were a prophecy about Jesus, it is sorely out of place. The words of verse 21 – “He keeps all of his bones and not even one of them is broken” according to Rabbi David Kimhi (the “Radak”) – refers to bones to describe the entire body because the skeletal structure is the body’s mainstay. According to Radak’s book Sefer HaBris (Pt. 1, Essay 11) God ensures that a special part of the skeletal structure will remain intact for the righteous after death so that He may use it to resurrect their bodies in the Messianic Age.

The verse can also be understood in accordance with the ancient Jewish tradition that at Sinai God gave the Jewish people a total of 613 commandments — 365 negative commandments and 248 positive commandments, and these numbers are the 365 sinews, ligaments and tendons and the 248 bones and major organs in the human body (according to tradition). So, when David says that God guards “all of his bones”, he is saying that God reciprocates man for observing His commandments by protecting man’s body for the World to Come. See Rabbi Eliyahu HaCohen, Tehillos Hashem (1738).

Beyond presenting an alternative reading of Ps. 34:21, there are good reasons to not conclude that a Christological interpretation is tenable. As noted above, in context of David’s Psalm, a messianic prophecy just doesn’t belong. The Psalm is clearly descriptive of classes of persons — righteous people and evildoers — whether in plural or singular form.

Finally, the attempt by Gospel writers to include as a fact that Jesus was crucified without his bones being broken shows a confusion about the sacrifices. Sacrifices meant to atone for sins — e.g. the burnt offering — did not preclude breaking bones after the slaughter of the offering. Only the Passover offering, which did not extend atonement, but was meant as an offering of remembrance of the Exodus, prohibited the breaking of bones, while requiring that the owners of the Passover offering eat all edible parts of the animal (including the bone marrow, which they would access by burning holes through the animal’s bones). If Jesus was meant to be a substitute sin offering, the Pascahal lamb analogy doesn’t work. Finally, as a practical matter, if none of Jesus’ bones had been broken while he was crucified, it is unlikely that anyone would die from crucifixion quickly under those circumstances. Jewish law (Babyl. Talmud, Yevamos 120) states that a widow seeking to prove her husband’s death could not rely on testimony that someone saw her husband being crucified (but not yet dead) because people were known to survive the ordeal. To die in 4 or 5 hours on an afternoon would have required breaking the leg bones so that he could not support his weight and avoid asphyxiation.

hermeneutics.stackexchange.com

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