The Hebrew text of Psa. 106:19-20 states,

יט יַעֲשׂוּ עֵגֶל בְּחֹרֵב וַיִּשְׁתַּחֲווּ לְמַסֵּכָה כ וַיָּמִירוּ אֶת כְּבוֹדָם בְּתַבְנִית שׁוֹר אֹכֵל עֵשֶׂב

which is translated into English as,

19 They made a calf in Horeb, and worshipped the molten image. 20 Thus they changed their glory into the similitude of an ox that eateth grass. KJV, 1769

Psa. 106:19-20 appears to be describing the event where the Israelites made a golden calf and worshipped it as their god (cp. Exo. 32:4). Why then does it say that the Israelites “changed their glory into the similitude of an ox”? Shouldn’t it say that the Israelites “changed his glory,” with the personal pronoun “his” referring to Yahveh?


2 Answers 2


The Hebrew form כְּבוֹדָ֑ם (kə-ḇō-w-ḏām) "glory of them", is only found four times in scripture: Psalm 106:20, Isaiah 61:6, Hosea 4:7 and Hosea 9:11.

Moses made it unmistakably clear how this was to work when he said, concerning the Law:

Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the LORD my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it. Keep therefore and do them; For this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.
For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the LORD our God is in all things that we call upon him for? And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?
-- Deuteronomy 4:5-8 (KJV)

God, by means of His presence within and the diligent practice of His Law without, was to be the glory of the nation, so that all nations would be drawn to Him.

By pressing Aaron to make them a golden calf, the people of Israel demonstrated their ignorance of: the power that was at their disposal to impact the world; and the part they were being called on to play. The big picture was just too much for them to comprehend.


What principle should be invented/concocted so that it should be "changed his glory" rather than "changed their glory"?

[כבודם] is plainly and simply 3rd person plural possessive.

We should be Bible fundamentalists and literalists and refrain from modifying the plain grammar of the Hebrew, because doing so would reflect a predisposed doctrine not found in the original Hebrew.

Such mode of interpretive-authoritative translation should stop.

Psalm 8 (my favourite passage to deride such an attitude/mode of translation):

  • מה אנוש
    • who/what is humankind
  • כי תזכרנו
    • that You think about us
  • ובן אדם
    • and son of adam/man
  • כי תפקדנו
    • that You empower us
  • ותחסרהו מעט
    • You lessen him a little
  • מאלֹהים
    • from G'd
  • וכבוד והדר
    • and glory and honour
  • תעטרהו
    • you adorn him

However, people with a predisposed doctrine could not accept that Almighty Allah desires humankind to be nearly equal to Him. So they deliberately mistranslated the passage to reflect what you now find in KJV and NIV.

Another of my favourite and my oft overused passage to treat the indication of such masochistic mode of translation is Hosea 2:16 (Jewish enumeration = 2:18)

  • והיה בים ההוא נאם יי
    • then is existent that coming day declares the LORD
  • תקראי אישׁי
    • shall you call me my mensch-husband
  • ולֹא תקראי לי עוד בעלי
    • and not call me anymore my master-husband

Almighty Allah wants us humankind to be His equal.

When people translate the Bible this way, they are worshipping a golden calf. They invent a religion and debase themselves and refuse to accept that humankind is meant to be nearly equal to G'd.

They have already decided, this wonderful elegant golden calf perception of Almighty Allah is what you need. And here is the way we should mistranslate the scriptures, to reflect that predisposed golden calf we hewn out for you.

  • I guess people either didn't like the way I wrote it, or they couldn't dispute the unpleasant ideas, or they could not see how the "glory" in my answer explains the "glory" of the question.
    – Cynthia
    Oct 23, 2016 at 6:17
  • This site has answers where they sermonize on pro-jesus ideologies irrelevant to the question and are not downvoted. But when I elucidate ideas in more diverse manner (that are usually not friendly to jesus) I get downvoted.
    – Cynthia
    Oct 23, 2016 at 9:05

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