Matthew 21:16

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and said unto him, Hearest thou what these are saying? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea: did ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou has perfected praise? (ASV)


Edit this section if you suspect error.

The problem with this text is that Jesus' quotation of the Psalm follows the Greek LXX, whereas the Hebrew reads "strength" (`oz), not "praise" (tehillah) - Psalm 8:2, 8:3 MT & LXX. In context, the Psalm is talking about having strength to defeat God's enemies. But the gospel of Matthew follows the LXX, reading ainon (acc sg), "praise". Jesus, and those he was speaking to, however, would have been native speakers of Aramaic and Hebrew, and hence he would have quoted either an Aramaic Targum or the original Hebrew.

Editted by: Ichabod Crane.

What is the strength of babes? They cry! No other strength can be identified from an infant. Thus, the saying "that kid sure has a set of lungs on him."

added by LHuskey

The majority of Christian English translations use "strength" for Psalm 8:2 and therefore Matthew 21:16 is a misquote based on the Christian Bible.

--JoeWallack 10:31, 15 Jan 2008 (CST)



Edit this section to note miscellaneous facts.

There are two issues here. There is the issue of inerrancy (Do we have a false or inaccurate historical account?) and there is the issue of the accuracy of Jesus� quotation of the psalm.

From the information we have, the historical account is accurate. There was a man, called Jesus, who preached in the first century, and he is quoted as saying that ascribed to him in Matthew 21:16. We conclude that there is no basis for a claim of inerrancy with regard to the historical account, or at least, that no argument has been presented to support a claim of inerrancy.

Jesus is quoted to have said, �Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have perfected praise.� The citation from Psalm 8 is, �Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have ordained strength, Because of Your enemies, That You may silence the enemy and the avenger.�

We may take Jesus to equate �praise� with �strength.� What is it that comes out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants? Not very much from what we can observe. Yet, the psalmist describes that which comes out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants as �strength� in some form or fashion. Jesus merely identifies this strength as praise.

In context, we are told that �the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that [Jesus] did, and the children crying out in the temple and saying, �Hosanna to the Son of David!� [and] they were indignant.� To this Jesus replies that it is praise that comes from the children and His reference to the Psalm would cause the chief priests and scribes to understand that this praise is the �strength [to] silence the enemy and the avenger.� Thus, they would understand that Jesus is telling them that they are enemies of God. That the chief priests and scribes understand this seems evident because the next day they challenge Jesus� authority to teach and to make the claims that he makes.


The Pro claim is that Jesus has misquoted Psalms by replacing "strength" with "praise". This is a linguistic issue. Con must not only assert but provide a reasonable basis for arguing that "praise" is a reasonable substitute for "strength". There is no reasonable basis given above for the replacement of "strength" with "praise" in a quote.

--JoeWallack 10:49, 15 Jan 2008 (CST)

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