These two verses are not found in the NJPS:

and out of the tribe of Reuben, Bezer with its pasturelands, Jahaz with its pasturelands, Kedemoth with its pasturelands, and Mephaath with its pasturelands—four cities; (Joshua 21:36-37, ESV)

I've found a few pages around the net discussing it, but a definitive answer on this site is needed ;).

  • What is the manuscript evidence for these verses?
  • What is an overview of the arguments for and against its authenticity?
  • NJPS = New Jewish Publication Society? I like "pasturelands" better than "suburbs." Why did you take out all the "her[s]"?
    – Daisy
    Commented Apr 25, 2016 at 14:54
  • related- hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/26210/…
    – barlop
    Commented Feb 4, 2017 at 14:02
  • An answer at that link states "So, for example, among older commentators, C.F. Keil (1880, p. 214 n.2) points out that not only does the evidence of the manuscripts point towards inclusion, even the MT text of Joshua depends upon it, for otherwise its own totals here for the Reubenite cities does not tally (a point echoed by George Cooke, 1918). The rationale for the omission is that the scribe's eye jumped from the וממטה which begins v. 36, to the same form which begins v. 38, missing out the intervening text (i.e. "parablepsis owing to homoioarcton" if you like the technical terms)."
    – barlop
    Commented May 26, 2019 at 2:37
  • @barlop As per the note regarding "inclusion", it should also be noted that such manuscripts may or may not also include the phrase "in the wilderness", a subtle difference, the former possibly(though not explicitly) made in likeness of the Vulgate. "Inclusion" then in this context may denote a second meaning.
    – user21676
    Commented May 27, 2019 at 11:41
  • Also, I'm not claiming Bezer wasn't in the wilderness, as mentioned elsewhere in scripture.
    – user21676
    Commented May 27, 2019 at 11:48

2 Answers 2


Joshua 21:36-37 (KJV): And out of the tribe of Reuben, Bezer with her suburbs, and Jahazah with her suburbs, Kedemoth with her suburbs, and Mephaath with her suburbs; four cities.

These words do appear appear in the LXX and the Vulgate, but not in the Masoretic text of the Second Rabbinic Bible, edited by Jacob Ben Chayyim and printed by Daniel Bomberg in 1525. However they appeared in the First Rabbinic Bible, edited by Felix Pratensis in 1517-1518.

We can see that what is omitted in many standard Hebrew Bibles are the words that belong between the two occurrences of 'four cities'. John F. Brug (Textual Criticism of the Old Testament, page 79) explains that these two verses were apparently omitted from some manuscripts because verses 36 and 38 begin with the same words. The omission was a scribal error.

  • 1
    I think you mean "These words do appear in", not "do not appear appear in".
    – fdb
    Commented Apr 25, 2016 at 9:40
  • 2
    The same error was not made in the Jerusalem Tarjum, which can serve as a cross check. It has "ומשבטא דראובן ית קרית דשזבות קטולא ית בצר במדברא וית רוחהא ית יהצה וית רוחה , ית קדמות וית רוחהא ית ממיפעת וית רוחהא קרוין ארבע". Surprisingly these verses are not even mentioned in the Hebrew University "Jerusalem Crown", but are printed as footnotes "בקצת ספרים אחר פסוק לה..." in the "Mikraot Gdolot" and Koren editions and in Israeli Defense Forces standard issue Bibles.
    – user17080
    Commented Nov 18, 2016 at 4:11
  • @AbuMunirIbnIbrahim but isn't the targum in aramaic not hebrew?
    – barlop
    Commented Dec 15, 2016 at 23:38
  • @barlop The Jerusalem Tarjum (Targum) is an Aramaic translation, as you can see from my quotation. The Targum is a significant indicator of missing or extra verses in that it is a parallel text, like the Talmudic verse citations, the LXX, Vulgate and the Peshita. A suspected late scribal mistake in the MT MSS should always be checked against Targum MSS's first.
    – user17080
    Commented Dec 16, 2016 at 4:19
  • @AbuMunirIbnIbrahim so, targum aside since that's not hebrew, where did they get the hebrew for e.g. an IDF standard issue bible(assuming they have it in hebrew?)?
    – barlop
    Commented Dec 16, 2016 at 11:46

The Companion Bible E.W.Bullinger:

Verse 36 And out of the tribe of Reuben. See note on Joshua 21:38 . Reuben. Some codices, with one early printed edition, add "a city of refuge for the manslayer

Bezer . Some codices, with Septuagint and Vulgate, add in the desert".

and Jahasah . Some codices omit this "and"

Verse 37 Kedemoth. Some codices, with six early printed editions, and Septuagint, read "and Kedemoth

Verse 38

By an Homoceoteleuton ( App-6 )

Ho´-mœ-o-tel-eu´-ton; or, Like Endings (Mark 12:30). The repetition of the same letters or syllables at the end of successive words. Used also of an omission in the text caused by such-like endings: the scribe's eye going back to the latter of such similar words, instead of the former. See Joshua 2:1.

some scribe, writing as far as "four cities "at end of Joshua 21:35 , went back with his eye to the same words at the end of Joshua 21:37 , and omitted, by an accident, the two verses Joshua 21:36 and Joshua 21:37 , and continued at Joshua 21:38 , which commences with the some words which end Joshua 21:35 . Hence they are not contained in the current text of the Hebrew Bible.

The Authorized Version puts these verses in, however, without a note; the Revised Version also, but with a note. The two verses are contained in all the early printed Hebrew Bibles, the Septuagint and Vulgate, and very many codices.

They were first omitted by Jacoh ben Chayim (1524, 1525), and the current Hebrew printed texts have followed him.

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