The verset ". . .slanders not with his tongue" is missing from the Psalm (15,3) found at Qumran. The LXX does contain this reference to slander which begs the question, at least for me, when would this have been added post-Dead Sea Scrolls?

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    Which scroll of Qumran DSS are you talking about? (There are several). Whose to say if the DSS deleted the verse rather than adding it later on?
    – Dottard
    Jan 7, 2023 at 4:57
  • I did find a reference to Psalm 15:1-5: Manuscript - 5/6HevPs; Location - 5/6Hev 1b. These were referenced in a text, The Biblical Qumran Scrolls, by Eugene Ulrich, but I failed to find the actual Hebrew associated with this location having downloaded the .pdf. I'll try and do some more digging.
    – ed huff
    Jan 7, 2023 at 6:43
  • I did find, under the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls digital library, fragments belonging to the above 5/6Hev 1b (deadseascrolls.org.il/explore-the-archive/manuscript/…). But narrowing my search to the Plate/Fragment in this collection will be another challenge.
    – ed huff
    Jan 7, 2023 at 16:26
  • The minor variants can be explained by the same reasons we have differences in NT mss. This kinda questions requires reading of textual criticism and history of Heb text. The other old questions have given some resources for it. Scribes can add words and phrases for many controversial and innocent reasons.
    – Michael16
    Mar 13, 2023 at 11:36

2 Answers 2


The truth may sound strange to those accustomed to revering the Dead Sea Scrolls, but the real issue here is most probably with them, not with the earlier manuscripts--consider the evidence before judging.

Important Evidence for Dead Sea Scrolls' Origin

The Hebrew scribes who copied the scriptures were fastidiously careful to preserve them without making any change whatsoever to the text. They would not change so much as the spelling of a word, even if they deemed it to have been misspelled. For this reason, we are able to see evidence today of the evolution of the Hebrew language over time, as spellings changed and Aramaic words or spellings sometimes entered the language.

At the time that the scribes were copying the scrolls discovered in the caves of Qumran, now called the Dead Sea Scrolls, they were using more than one scribe for each manuscript. The name of God in Hebrew, often transliterated to English as YHWH, was regarded as so sacred that a special scribe was designated to write it--a separate scribe from the one who had copied the other portions of the text. The first scribe would leave a blank space wherever the name of God should be, and the special scribe would later fill in the blank.

In many of the manuscripts discovered at Qumran, this step of filling in God's sacred name was not completed. So we know that at least these manuscripts were not considered "perfect" at the time of their burial. And it was a burial--a sequestering in the caves, much like Jesus was "buried" in a hollowed-out cave closed in by a large rock.

Even a very small change meant the manuscript was unfit to be used and must be taken out of circulation. Dr. Patrick Zukeran (2006) writes:

After years of careful study, it has been concluded that the Dead Sea Scrolls give substantial confirmation that our Old Testament has been accurately preserved. The scrolls were found to be almost identical with the Masoretic text. Hebrew Scholar Millar Burrows writes, “It is a matter of wonder that through something like one thousand years the text underwent so little alteration. As I said in my first article on the scroll, ‘Herein lies its chief importance, supporting the fidelity of the Masoretic tradition.'”{6}

A significant comparison study was conducted with the Isaiah Scroll written around 100 B.C. that was found among the Dead Sea documents and the book of Isaiah found in the Masoretic text. After much research, scholars found that the two texts were practically identical. Most variants were minor spelling differences, and none affected the meaning of the text.

Those "minor spelling differences" were enough to disqualify the manuscript, and its removal from the copy chain meant the preservation of the original text via those copies which were error-free.

The scribes regarded the copied scriptures as so sacred, that even when they had made a mistake in copying them, they dared not destroy, mutilate, or burn the manuscripts. They, instead, gave them an honorable burial.

As one documentary-style article posted to the Live Science website states:

Destroying any text that contains God's name is forbidden in Jewish religious law, even accidently, and any documents from Cairo's Jewish community were ultimately stored in the genizah just in case, at least until they could be formally buried.

The fact that these scrolls were buried in such a remote place seems to support the theory that they were not intended to ever be rediscovered or accessed. They were not buried for the primary purpose of preservation, but to hide them away, never to be seen again.

The Usefulness of the Scrolls

The Dead Sea Scrolls have much to teach us. They were a wonderful discovery. But they are unsuited for use as a standard of measurement or of accuracy for the Biblical manuscripts known prior to their discovery. They had flaws, which is why they were taken out of circulation and buried in the caves.

Over time, as the scribes did their work of copying, their "originals" would wear out, and they would begin to use one of their fresher copies as their new "original." Manuscripts taken out of circulation, however, and stored in earthen vessels where they would last a long time, did not wear out. Carbon-dating may well show them to be "older"--but this does not mean they are more "original" nor more accurate. Many scholars today presume that older is always better: but this is simply incorrect.


In place of asking, "when would this have been added post-Dead Sea Scrolls?", the question might better be asked, "Is the absence of this phrase in the manuscript the reason it was buried at Qumran?"

It was the minor deviations from the source material that prevented these scrolls from entering the general circulation, and instead got them set aside, not to be used. Out of their enduring respect for the holy scriptures, the scribes dared not destroy them, even when flawed, but gave them an honorable, and perhaps ceremonious, burial in the caves.

  • I doubt your claims about the DSS being discarded rubbish is real and supported by real scholars. They were carefully buried or kept in the isolated caves as a treasure to save them from destruction from the Roman attacks. The discarded books could have been buried in synagogue and other places, not on mountain caves.
    – Michael16
    Mar 13, 2023 at 11:02
  • @Michael16 As it happens, I was just in a Hebrew class this morning in which the Jewish rabbi was talking about the sacred name of God and how the Jews regarded it. He asked the class what happens if you write that name down somewhere--can you now just throw it away or destroy it? "No," he said. "You give it an honorable burial." Now, he was not talking about the DSS. He was talking about God's name. But scripture is full of God's name, and those DSS would be treated as sacred because of that name, even if they had flaws. They could not be discarded as a common thing, but buried honorably.
    – Biblasia
    Mar 13, 2023 at 11:42
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    @Michael16 An additional fact that would add evidence to this is that the Book of Esther, the only book of the Old Testament that does not mention God's name, is NOT among the Dead Sea Scrolls. Interesting, right?
    – Biblasia
    Mar 13, 2023 at 11:48
  • Thats not a burial. The discarded mss are buried in synagogues and regular places. This is deliberate hiding for preservation. You are making conjectures of your own based on the tradition of discarding erroneous mss. It wouldnt be surprising that censoring of God's name did not begin during the DSS time. Try to use on reliable sources with reference, no conjectures.
    – Michael16
    Mar 13, 2023 at 11:51
  • @Michael16 Per your definitions of "burial," was Jesus buried?
    – Biblasia
    Mar 13, 2023 at 11:52

In your question, it seems as if you are giving a proven amount of weight to the DSS. There are some problems with that:

  • There is no evidence that the Qumran documents were "mainstream":

The Dead Sea texts used and preserved by the Qumran community include a number of textual types. Even among these traditions the variations are minor, and there is no evidence that such texts were circulated as standard texts in main-line Judaism.

—Brug. Textual Criticism of the Old Testament (p. 58)

  • The DSS that were copied more faithfully end up confirming the MT:

Many of the DSS texts are rather carelessly copied to the degree that they would not have met the rabbinic standards for the maximum number of corrections allowed in a manuscript. Parts of the Great Isaiah Scroll have corrections every four lines of so. The rabbinic standard allowed only one to three corrections per column.

—Brug. Textual Criticism of the Old Testament (p. 59)

  • The textual streams within the DSS conflicted with each other. And the variants are "substantial":

The Qumran texts, as well as differing from one another, relate to ð, ð, ⅏, and the other texts in a ramified system of agreements and disagreements. The more significant deviations from ð in the Qumran texts are described in ch. 7B1, 4, 9–13, 18, 22, 23, as well as below.

Some texts exemplified by 1QIsa in Table 22 display a great number of differences in orthography and morphology, whereas the relation is reversed in the texts exemplified by 4QSam in Table 23: differences in morphology and orthography are few, in contrast to the large number of other types of differences in both major and minor details. Most of the variants listed for 4QSam in Table 23 are substantial.

<Emmanuel Tov, Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible, 3rd ed. (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2012), 105.>

Conclusion: Before one uses the DSS as a witness (just as in the LXX), one first has to do thorough text criticism on the DSS to see if, in the specific case, it is actually a viable witness. So, there's no evidence to give the DSS preeminence over the MT in Psa. 15.

Further Consideration: If, in this instance, the DSS were of more valid weight, we would likely see some sort of trail of transmission. There would be some sort of reading elsewhere than in the DSS. Instead, all the versional support we have leads us back to the MT:

  • “ὃς οὐκ ἐδόλωσεν ἐν γλώσσῃ αὐτοῦ” (Psalm 14:3 LXXS-T) ("who does not deceive in his tongue")
  • “Qui loquitur veritatem in corde suo,” (Psalm 14:3 V-LATINA) ("who speaks truth in his own heart")
  • “loquiturque veritatem in corde suo” (Psalm 14:3 VULG-T)
  • ”ܘܠܐ ܢܟܘܠܬܢ ܒܠܫܢܗ.“ (Psalm 15:3 PESHOT-T) ("Who is not deceitful in his tongue.")

Final Conclusion: With all this considered, it's far more likely that, in this instance, the DSS made a mistake which the MT (and all the versions) didn't.

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