Ten Christian Prooftexts:
The misuse of Hebrew Scriptures
A Psalm of David.
The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.
Christians see this verse as a statement that Gd, referred to in the first use of the word ‘Lord,’ was speaking to Jesus, referred to in the second use of the word, ‘Lord.’ Christians understand this verse to be saying, ‘Gd said to Jesus…’ Of course, this leads me to ask the question, if Jesus were Gd, than why would Gd the Father have to make Jesus’s enemies into Jesus’s footstool? If Jesus were Gd, wouldn’t he be able to do that on his own?
Be that as it may, there are other great problems with this verse. There are no capital letters in Hebrew. By capitalizing both instances of the word ‘Lord,’ used in the verse, it makes it seem as though both words refer to deity, or to someone who is divine. It is a way of leading the reader to view this verse as one divine entity speaking to another divine entity, which is an interpretation in and of itself because they are choosing to capitalize the first letter of the word in both uses of the word ‘Lord.’
To really understand this verse, or for that matter any verse from the Hebrew Scriptures, one must read it in the original Hebrew. This verse begins, in transliteration:
L’David mizmor. Ne’um Y.H.V.H. L’Adonee…
There are numerous ways to translate the first phrase of this verse, 'L’David mizmor.' The reason is that the prefix of L’ can mean ‘of,’ or ‘for,’ or ‘to.’ This means that there are three possible translations of this phrase, and each one is possibly correct. They are ‘Of David,’ or ‘For David,’ or ‘To David,’
If the correct translation is “Of David,” then it would mean that David wrote this psalm. However, if the correct translation is ‘To David,’ or “For David,’ then it would mean that this was written by someone other than King David, the author is unknown, and this unknown author dedicated it TO King David, and he wrote it FOR King David. Please also notice that the first word used that is translated as 'Lord,' is, indeed, the holiest name for Gd, called the 'Tetragrammaton,' which means 'the four lettered name.' However, the second word that is translated as ‘Lord’ is not the four letter name for Gd, the Tetragrammaton, but rather it is the word 'Adonee,' which means ‘my master,’ or ‘my lord’ as in the ‘lords and ladies’ of England’s nobility as the author of the King James translation would have understood it. The better way to translate this phrase, then, would be 'Gd said to my master,' and would have been written by a Psalmist other than King David, about King David, and for King David.
This verse was written about King David, for King David, and the author is saying that Gd was going to make King David’s enemies into King David’s footstool, meaning that King David was going to walk all over his enemies, and, indeed, this is what happened, King David defeated the Philistines and forced the Moabites to pay tribute.
Although Christians wish to see this verse as a proof text for their Christian theology, it is interesting the way in which Jesus uses this verse in their own New Testament. Jesus quotes this verse to 'prove' that the messiah was not going to be a descendant of King David, in spite of the fact that the Jewish people have always believed that the messiah had to be a descendant of King David.
In the verses below, Jesus quotes this verse from Psalm 110:1, and also sees this as King David writing about how Gd spoke to the messiah. However, Jesus asks how can the messiah be the descendant of King David, if King David himself refers to the messiah as King David’s Lord?
While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, Saying, What think ye of Christ? Whose son is he? They say unto him, The Son of David. He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? If David then call him Lord, how is he his son? And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions. [Matthew 22:41-46]
Christian missionaries wish to view Psalm 110 as though it proves that the messiah will be Gd, but Jesus, in the Christian’s New Testament, uses the very same verse to prove that the messiah, if he is divine, cannot be a descendant of King David. Jesus, according to Christian theology was, himself, a descendant of King David, so, according to Jesus in the above verses, Jesus could not have been the messiah. Christians cannot have it both ways.
Questions? Email Rabbi Stuart Federow