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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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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.

  • According to the Jewish editors of the Oxford Jewish Study Bible, the meaning of the Masoretic Text in Psalm 8:2-3 is "uncertain". – user33515 Mar 17 '17 at 19:09
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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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The two sayings are synonymous, for "perfected praise" is an "ordination of strength" to the praiser, as well as to those in the faith who are hearing the praise. Have you not been blessed and strengthened by another brother's praise of God? In this way, the idea, though using different words, is actually the same regardless of the phrase used because God ordains strength via perfected praise.

The same thing can be said when Peter seemingly misquotes an old testament verse in saying "He who believes shall not be confounded"… but the original says "shall not make haste". Again, these two carry the same idea, even though they sound far different. This is because when we "make haste" or get ahead of God, we will often find ourselves put to confusion and confounded; Whereas, proper faith and belief will never make haste or get ahead of God, but will patiently wait on Him, and thus never be confounded, at least not by God. We often confound ourselves in our human reasoning, but we know that proper and patient faith always pleases our Creator and thus would never result in Him granting us confusion, for He is not the author thereof.

  • Welcome to Biblical Hermeneutics Stack Exchange -- we're a little different from a forum, so do take the site tour if you haven't already. Please also see what we’re looking for in answers, and note too that this is not a "Christian" site – Dɑvïd Feb 26 '17 at 14:06
  • "... but the original says 'shall not make haste'" - What are you taking to be the "original"? The JPS Tanakh translates Isaiah 28:16 out of the Masoretic Text as He who trusts need not fear. – user33515 Mar 17 '17 at 19:07

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