By comparing the different versions of the biblical passages analyzed by Ronald Hendel, we can follow his argument more closely. Shown here (below) is a fragment from the Dead Sea Scroll known as 4QGenk, which contains a portion of Genesis 1:9 in Hebrew. Beneath it is part of the first chapter of Genesis as it appears in the Septuagint (LXX in scholarly shorthand), an ancient Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible. The page shown here comes from the Codex Alexandrinus, a fifth-century C.E. edition of the Septuagint. At far right, we again see a section of Genesis 1, this time in Hebrew, as recorded in the Leningrad Codex, a Masoretic manuscript that dates to the 11th century C.E. (“MT” stands for Masoretic Text).

Scholars have long recognized that readings in the LXX often differ from those found in Masoretic manuscripts. Genesis 1:9 (outlined in blue in both the LXX and the MT manuscripts) provides a good example. By comparing the English translations given beneath the respective Greek and Hebrew versions, readers can see that the LXX reading of Genesis 1:9 contains a sentence about the creation of dry land that is lacking in the MT.

Although scholars once assumed that the variant readings of the Septuagint indicated its unreliability as a translation, the Dead Sea Scrolls suggest otherwise. Here, for example, the variation found in the LXX is supported by the Qumran fragment 4QGenk. The Hebrew words highlighted on this fragment (reproduced, with translation, beneath 4QGenk) are absent from the MT reading; but they match the final four Greek words (highlighted in yellow and shown in red letters) of the LXX reading. Hendel reasons that the omission of the words in the MT stems from an early scribal error. If so, then the reading found in the Septuagint actually represents a more original form of Genesis 1:9. Therefore, concludes Hendel, the LXX—Qumran reading should replace the MT reading in scholarly editions of the Hebrew Bible.


[]byh artw
and dr[y land] appeared


Kai; eipen oJ qeo;~, sunacqhvtw to; u{dwr to; uJpokavtw tou’ oujranou’ eij~ sunagwgh;n mivan, kai; ojfqhvtw hJ xhrav kai; ejgevneto ou{tw~ kai; sunhvcqh to; u{dwr to; uJpokavtw tou’ oujranou’ eij~ ta;~ sunagwga;~ aujtw’n, kai; w[fqh hJ xhrav.

And God said, “Let the water below the sky be gathered into one area, and let the dry land appear,” and it was so. And the waters below heaven gathered into their gathering place and dry land appeared.


µymh wwqy µyhla rmayw µwqm la µymh tjtm yhyw hbyh hartw dja÷k

God said, “Let the water below the sky be gathered into one area, that the dry land may appear.”
And it was so.