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My understanding is that translations of Psalm 16:10 differ based on whether they are translating from the Masoretic text or the Septuagint.

For example:

"For Thou wilt not abandon my soul to the nether-world; neither wilt Thou suffer Thy godly one to see the pit." (Jewish Publication Society Bible)

and

"For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption." (English Standard Version)

Is there any specific evidence for either translation being superior to the other? For example, is there any reason to think that the LXX might be a more accurate rendering of the original Hebrew text than the much later Masoretic manuscripts?

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1 Answer 1

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Here are the simple facts:

Hebrew

The operative word in the Hebrew text is שַׁחַת (shachath) which is "pit", usually for trapping a wild animal or, the grave for the dead, eg, Job 33:22, 24, 28, Ps 16:10, 33:10, 49:10, 55:24, Isa 38:17, 51:14, etc. Thus, it is cloely associated with she'ol.

LXX

The operative word in the Greek LXX is διαφθορά (diaphthora) = destruction, decay, corruption

NT

It is instructive that, as is most often the case, the NT writers quoted from the LXX rather than the MT, presumably because most could not read the Hebrew MT. Ps 16:10 is quoted or alluded to several times in the NT which includes: Acts 2:27, 31, 13:34-36, each time using the same noun, διαφθορά (diaphthora).

This, is not to suggest that the LXX is more reliable or accurate than the MT is Ps 16:10, but it does not exclude that possibility.

I assume that it was the influence of the NT writers that prompted the MT translators to prefer an interpretive translation of the MT to make it more similar to the LXX at that point.

In any case, the pit of the grave (she'ol) is regularly associated with the decay of the corpse as per Job 17:14, Ps 55:23, 49:9, Isa 38:17, etc. Recognizing this, the KJV sometimes translates this word "pit" as "corruption" as per Ps 16:10, 49:9, 55:23, 103:4.

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