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But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, "Hosanna to the son of David!" they were indignant, and they said to him, "Do you hear what these are saying?" And Jesus said to them, "Yes; have you never read, 'Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise'?" -Matthew 21:15,16

Jesus quotes from Psalm 8:2

Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger.

My question is in regards to the end of David's clause "you establish strength." How does Jesus find "praise" in this verse?

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2 Answers

up vote 10 down vote accepted

Jesus is quoting a version of Psalm 8 that corresponds to the Septuagint (Greek translation), which does contain significant variations from the Masoretic (Hebrew version). The Masoretic is used for most versions of the Christian Old Testament in English. The Septuagint was completed roughly two centuries before Jesus did his teaching.

Psalm 8.31 εκ στοματος νηπιων και θηλαζοντων κατηρτισω αινον ενεκα των εχθρων σου του καταλυσαι εχθρον και εκδικητην

Matthew 21.16 και ειπον αυτω ακουεις τι ουτοι λεγουσιν ο δε ιησους λεγει αυτοις ναι ουδεποτε ανεγνωτε οτι εκ στοματος νηπιων και θηλαζοντων κατηρτισω αινον

The portion of Psalm 8 that Jesus quotes is identical to the Septuagint version: εκ στοματος νηπιων και θηλαζοντων κατηρτισω αινον.

Those two words at the end, κατηρτισω αινον, mean '[he] prepared praise'.


1 Just for clarity, 8.3 was not a typo. Psalm 8.2 in the Masoretic text is numbered as Psalm 8.3 in the Septuagint text.

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A supplement to Mark Edward's answer:

Though "strength" and "praise" are two very different words, the "strength" in Ps 8 in the Hebrew text comes from "mouths", and the psalm is about praising God. It is not a stretch to think that the psalm talks about praise from the infants' mouths.

Moreover, the New Testament seldom quotes the Old Testament word for word, but rather refers to the meaning of the text as it related the topic at hand. Cf. the table on this site.

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