Psalms 68:8 KJV

8 The earth shook, the heavens also dropped at the presence of God: even Sinai itself was moved at the presence of God, the God of Israel.

Psalms 68:8 NIV

the earth shook, the heavens poured down rain, before God, the One of Sinai, before God, the God of Israel.

Psalms 68:8 NLV

the earth trembled, and the heavens poured down rain before you, the God of Sinai, before God, the God of Israel.

Psalms 68:8 ESV

the earth quaked, the heavens poured down rain, before God, the One of Sinai, before God,[a] the God of Israel.

The translation in the KJV seems different from other translations

How can we understand the KJV translation?

  • It is clear that there has been a translation issue with the verse. YLT : Yea, the heavens have dropped before God, This Sinai -- before God, the God of Israel. Green's Literal The earth shook, and the heavens dropped before God, this Sinai before God, the God of Israel. Judging by the two literal translations, the KJV translators have attempted an idiomatic English rendering which has meant some degree of interpretation. But the literals seem to support it. I think we need a Hebrew expert to comment further . . . . . . .
    – Nigel J
    Jul 26 '21 at 8:54
  • See the edit at the end of my answer. That should answer your question.
    – Perry Webb
    Aug 8 '21 at 20:32

The italicized text shows supplied wording of the KJV translators. The issue isn't the texts available to the translators, but how to translate the Hebrew text. The issue is how to translate זֶ֥ה.
As an adverb thus, in this manner results in a translation like KJV and NASB. As an adjective translates yon like the JPS Tanakh. As a subtantive translates *this one, the one" like NIV, NLV, and ESV

The earth shook, the heavens also dropped At the presence of God: even Sinai itself was moved At the presence of God, the God of Israel. (Psalm 68:8, KJV)

אֶ֤רֶץ רָעָ֨שָׁה׀

אַף־שָׁמַ֣יִם נָטְפוּ֮

‬מִפְּנֵ֪י אֱלֹ֫הִ֥ים‬

b‬זֶ֥ה סִינַ֑י‬

מִפְּנֵ֥י אֱ֝לֹהִ֗ים

אֱלֹהֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃ (Psalm 68:9, MT)

γῆ ἐσείσθη, καὶ γὰρ οἱ οὐρανοὶ ἔσταξαν, ἀπὸ προσώπου τοῦ θεοῦ τοῦτο Σινα,† ἀπὸ προσώπου τοῦ θεοῦ Ισραηλ. (Psalm 67:9, LXX)

The LXX translating זֶ֥ה with the neuter τοῦτο means the translators took it as adverbial.

terra mota est etenim caeli distillaverunt a facie Dei Sinai a facie Dei Israhel (Psalm 67:9, Vulgata)

the earth trembled, the sky rained because of God, yon Sinai, because of God, the God of Israel. (Psalm 68:9, JPS Tanakh)

The earth quaked; The heavens also dropped rain at the presence of God; Sinai itself quaked at the presence of God, the God of Israel. (Psalm 68:8 NASB)

This is the best bases for KJV's translation sense the grammar is not clear.

the whole mountain [Sinai] trembled greatly. (in Exodus 19:18)


Perry Webb has done a great job in pointing out the issue is the translator's choice of the many different targets for zeh. I'd like to finish off the answer by explaining what the KJV is saying and why I believe the option chosen by the NASB and KJV is the better one, and the option chosen by the ESV and NIV is worse. This is, of course, a matter of preference.


As many praises of God, there is a reiteration of the Exodus events. In this case:

Ps 68.7-8:

O God, when thou wentest forth before thy people, When thou didst march through the wilderness; Selah:

The earth shook, the heavens also dropped At the presence of God: even Sinai itself was moved At the presence of God, the God of Israel.

The "earth shook" and "even Sinai itself was moved" is a reference to the earthquakes and cataclysms of the theophany:

Ex 19.18

And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly.

Therefore the idea of "Sinai moving before the presence of God" makes a lot of sense.


If we look at the cantillation, which are used to group words into logical units, we see the following graph for verse 68 (translation my own):

A: The earth shook

    Ole We Yored A: 
        Tsinnor A: Also the heavens poured down
        Tsinnor B: from the presence of God

    Ole We Yored B:  
        Atnach A: This[zeh] Sinai
        Atnach B: 
            Revia A: from the presence of God
            Revia B: the God of Israel

This suggests a parallelism were X quakes before the presence of God, and in this parallelism, both heavens and zeh Sinai appear as the ones in the first verse before the presence of God, with the second Atnach an elaboration (the presence of God, the God of Israel).

The alternative translations suggest that Sinai be grouped with "presence of God" in Ole We Yored A, which is not what the masorah shows. The Masorah shows that Sinai is also before the presence of God.


How to understand the KJV translation of Psalms 68:8?

The KJV has an incorrect translation of the verse, Why?

The KJV was itself a translation, it was not based on the original Greek New Testament. So when a new translation is made, it is of course, different from the long-standing KJV, and people fault it for that. But what else can people do? The only thing they have to compare a new translation too is the old translation. They have no means to assess real accuracy and bias because they do not have a valid norm to which to compare translations.

Today there is such a norm available to anyone that is willing to take the trouble to learn how to use it: the original Greek New testament.

  • 2
    You have mentioned (twice) the 'Greek New Testament'. Psalm 68:8 is contained in the Old Testament scriptures. The KJV follows (largely) the TR, mostly Erasmus, Stephanus, the Computensian Polyglot and, occasionally, Beza in regard to the Greek New Testament scriptures. Largely speaking it follows the Hebrew Masoretic text for the Old Testament. This answer (as it stands) is incorrect.
    – Nigel J
    Jul 26 '21 at 8:51
  • 2
    Did you, by any chance, mean the Septuagint LXX ? In which case your answer would still be incorrect because the LXX is not scripture : it is itself a translation.
    – Nigel J
    Jul 26 '21 at 8:58
  • My comments were based on the book "Truth in Translation" By professor of Theology Jason David Beduhn, so we must give him credit, for he certainly knows better than you and me. The KJV was made before some of the best texts were found –like the Textus Sinaiticus. . On the available information when the KJV was published it was a very good and and accurate bible. Why do you take offense,? Do you mean that all the other translations are incorrect? Jul 26 '21 at 9:48
  • 2
    This answer is totally misleading and factually incorrect and ill-informed. It has NOTHING to do with the Greek NT. The KJV was translated directly from the Hebrew. It is just so wrong on so many levels. Your professor is very badly informed.
    – Dottard
    Jul 26 '21 at 11:03
  • I doubt that the Professor has got his facts muddled : I think it is yourself has misunderstood either the Professor's book or the above question.
    – Nigel J
    Jul 26 '21 at 13:32

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.