~ The Emendations ~
An emendation is an "alteration intended to improve." The Sopherim, in a misguided zeal for God and the Scriptures, took it upon themselves to make some changes to the manuscripts which were handed down to them. This might seem like a terrible thing to do, to make changes to the very Word of God. However, the Sopherim believed they were either: 1.) making necessary corrections to errors that had crept into their copies, 2.) were clarifying the actual intent of the Scriptures, or 3.) (in the case of the Tetragrammaton, YHVH) were showing extreme reverence for the scared name of God. In any case, they felt they were handling the Scriptures in a way that would be approved by God.
While one may condemn what the Sopherim did, in making alterations to the Scriptures, one must also praise them for keeping accurate records of their changes. This enables us to ‘look over their shoulder’ as it were, and see exactly what changes they made. The record of these emendations are found in what is know as the Massorah (Mahs-sohr’ah). The following details about the Massorah are taken from Appendix 30 of The Companion Bible. This is the Authorized Version of 1611 (KJV), with copious notes and 170 appendices written by E.W. Bullinger. It is published by Zondervan Bible Publishers, Grand Rapids, MI 49506. This Bible contains a wealth of information and is highly recommended by Hebrew Roots. Bullinger writes:
"Readers of The Companion Bible are put in possession of information denied to former generations of translators, commentators, critics, and general Bible students.
"All the oldest and best manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible contain on every page, beside the Text (which is arranged in two or more columns), a varying number of lines of smaller writing, distributed between the upper and lower margins. This smaller writing is called the Massorah Magna or Great Massorah, while that in the side margins and between the columns is called the Massorah Parva or Small Massorah.
"The word Massorah is from the root masar, to deliver something into the hand of another, so as to commit it to his trust. Hence the name is given to the small writing referred to, because it contains information necessary to the Massorites (those into whose trust the Sacred Text was committed), so that they might transcribe it, and hand it down correctly.
"When the Hebrew Text was printed, only the large type in the columns was regarded, and the small type of the Massorah was left, unheeded, in the MSS from which the Text was taken.
"When translators came to the printed Hebrew Text, they were necessarily destitute of the information contained in the Massorah; so that the Revisers as well as the Translators of the Authorized Version carried out their work without any idea of the treasures contained in the Massorah; and therefore, without giving a hint of it to their readers."
Some of the important lists of emended words, which are contained in the Massorah, are given in Bullinger’s Companion Bible in separate appendices as follows:
Appendix 31: The Fifteen Extraordinary Points of the Sopherim.
Appendix 32: The 134 Passages Where The Sopherim altered "Jehovah" to "Adonai".
Appendix 33: The "Eighteen Emendations" Of The Sopherim.
Appendix 34: The Readings Called Severin.
The men called ‘Massorites,’ mentioned in the previous quote, The Fifteen Points of the were keepers of the Scriptures. They followed in the period of time after that of the Sopherim, and were the ones who correctly copied the Hebrew Scriptures as handed down from the Sopherim. Even the smallest error rendered an entire scroll invalid. It is from their title, ‘Massorites’ that we receive the term ‘Masoretic Text, which is the chief source text for modem Old Testament translations.