Why would Tanakh's MT sometimes be preferred over Greek LXX as correct sources for New Testament bibles? - Example : Judges 18:30.

[Judges 18:30, LXX] states : "καὶ ἀνέστησαν ἑαυτοῗς οἱ υἱοὶ τοῦ Δαν τὸ γλυπτὸν Μιχα καὶ Ιωναθαν υἱὸς Γηρσωμ υἱοῦ Μωυσῆ αὐτὸς καὶ οἱ υἱοὶ αὐτοῦ ἦσαν ἱερεῗς τῇ φυλῇ Δαν ἕως τῆς ἡμέρας τῆς μετοικεσίας τῆς γῆς"


However [Shoftim 18:30] in the Tanakh MT states : "וַיָּקִ֧ימוּ לָהֶ֛ם בְּנֵי־דָ֖ן אֶת־הַפָּ֑סֶל וִ֠יהוֹנָתָן בֶּן־גֵּרְשֹׁ֨ם בֶּן־מְנַשֶּׁ֜ה ה֣וּא וּבָנָ֗יו הָי֚וּ כֹהֲנִים֙ לְשֵׁ֣בֶט הַדָּנִ֔י עַד־י֖וֹם גְּל֥וֹת הָאָֽרֶץ" -- showing מְנַשֶּׁ֜ה Menasseh not משה Moshe.


And English New Testament bibles -- like KJV, NKJV, NASB -- prefer the Tanakh's MT מְנַשֶּׁ֜ה "Manasseh" over the LXX Μωυσῆ "Moses" in Judges 18:30.

If the LXX is older than the Tanakh's MT, historians may think all New Testament versions of Judges 18:30 should show Μωυσῆ "Moses" instead of מְנַשֶּׁ֜ה "Menasseh".

What makes the Tanakh's "Menasseh" מְנַשֶּׁ֜ה more accurate than the LXX Μωυσῆ "Moses"?

2 Answers 2


You ask: "What makes the Tanakh's "Menasseh" מְנַשֶּׁ֜ה more accurate than the LXX Μωυσῆ "Moses"?"

It's actually the other way around! משה is more original than מנשה.

The MT actually doesn't have מנשה either, they have the word משה with a suspended נ between the mem and shin to indicate that the text should be altered to מנשה. This device is sometimes called litterae suspensae or אותיות תלויות, and there are only four instances of it in the entire OT, and this is one of them. It is almost certain (and so accepted by most biblical scholars) that the original reading was Moses, but that the soferim changed it to Manasseh, that's why we find the hanging nun to indicate that. The reason for this change is to hide the fact that Moses's grandchildren set up an idol in Dan; in order to protect Moses' reputation it was changed to Manasseh. The Talmud in tractate Baba Basra 109b also recognizes that the text should read משה not מנשה, the reason for the change given though is because they acted like the evil Manasseh king of Judah, a suggestion quite far-fetched, the former reason is more likely.

You can see more on this in Emmanuel Tov, Textual criticism of the Hebrew Bible, second chapter, (Hebrew edition p. 45).

  • Great info, this shows MT contains biased alteration, and LXX is better.
    – Michael16
    Jul 21, 2022 at 13:06
  • @Michael16 no it doesn't prove anything. I can show you many more instances where it is the other way around. Every book is different, and you can't make rash counclusions without seeing the whole picture, this is not how true biblical scholarship works.
    – bach
    Jul 22, 2022 at 14:23
  • I read this answer recently which said LXX is closer to the DSS, which proves MT is bad quality; and I know of the anti-Messianic alterations as in Psa22;Isa53, and this one on Moses is the most blatant one; I haven't read books but it feels safe to jump to the rash conclusion that MT is false and LXX is better. hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/59054/…
    – Michael16
    Jul 22, 2022 at 14:29
  • @Michael16, yes I wrote this answer. What I'm trying to tell you that there are many more instances where it is the other way around. For example it is widely accepted that Exodus 12:40, the MT is more original than the LXX or the SP. And there are many more. Some are due to the poor LXX translation (E.g., Gen. 47:31) and some are due to poor preservation. They both have their fair share of errors, none can be said to be better preserved, every verse is different.
    – bach
    Jul 24, 2022 at 2:00
  • See for example my answer to this question hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/4686/… The christians would have you believe that the LXX is better preserved and that the Rabbis tampered with the MT, and the Jews would have you believe that the MT is better and the LXX and christian translations tampered by the translators and monks. None of the views are correct. And both are biased and prejudiced, you have to keep an open mind when you study the bible.
    – bach
    Jul 24, 2022 at 2:00

At https://biblehub.com/parallel/judges/18-30.htm, 19 versions use "Manasseh" and 19 versions use "Moses".

Even LXX is split on this, Swete's Septuagint:

καὶ ἔστησαν ἑαυτοῖς οἱ υἱοὶ Δὰν τὸ γλυπτόν· καὶ Ἰωναθὰμ υἱὸς Γηρσὸμ υἱὸς Μανασσή [Manasseh], αὐτὸς καὶ οἱ υἱοὶ αὐτοῦ ἦσαν ἱερεῖς τῇ φυλῇ Δὰν ἕως ἡμέρας ἀποικίας τῆς γῆς.

If the LXX version of Judges 18:30 states "Μωυσῆ" (Moses), why would New Testament bibles prefer מְנַשֶּׁ֜ה (Menasseh) from Tanakh's MT?

Not all editions of LXX use "Μωυσῆ" (Moses). Not most bibles prefer מְנַשֶּׁ֜ה (Menasseh) either. The jury is still out :)

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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