The Old Testament of the Holy Bible is derived from the Hebrew Masoretic text. In this old text the Hebrew words are written without any spaces. Certain of the Hebrew letters have a soffit or final form that helps identify the end of the word. I am aware of three instances where there is a different translation, and meaning, of the Hebrew sentences because of the variability of the ending of the words. There are undoubtedly more than just three.
The first that I became aware of was after the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, the Israeli prime minister, in 1995. I must insert a little explanation here. Each year the Jews read the entire Torah, or the Books of Moses. There are specific passages to be read in synagogue each week. The week that Rabin was assassinated the reading was from Genesis 15. Specifically, Genesis 15:17 reads: “And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces.”
Because Rabin publicly stated that he was not “religious” and that the land granted by the Lord to Abraham in Genesis 15:18 had no significance in today’s world, he was not popular with conservative rabbis. Shortly after the assassination, the rabbis began telling of a different wording for Genesis 15:17. They noted that the same letters could also say (roughly), “A fire, an evil fire into Rabin, decreed by God.” Some rabbis said that the two uses of “fire” were prophetic of the two bullets that killed the prime minister.
Deuteronomy is the last book of the Torah (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy). Jews consider the Torah to be the complete Bible. To them the remaining books of the Old Testament are simply historic and prophetic commentary. Jewish scholars say that the final three verses of Deuteronomy (please see 34:10-12) can say, “For everyone: great terror, fire and earthquake.” That is a fascinating conclusion to the end of the Jewish Bible.
Another interesting revision of the Hebrew text is found in Zephaniah 1:14, which reads, “The great day of the LORD [is] near, [it is] near, and hasteth greatly, [even] the voice of the day of the LORD: the mighty man shall cry there bitterly.” First, please note that the context of this verse is the nearness of the Day of the Lord.
The last sentence of that verse, “the mighty man shall cry there bitterly,” according to Jewish scholars can also be read, “The mighty man is the Nazarene.” Of course, we know today Who the Nazarene is. Of even more interest is the fact that Nazareth, again according to Bible scholars, did not exist at the time of the Prophet Zephaniah. This passage is clearly prophetic.
Zephaniah 1:14 restated is, “The great day of the LORD [is] near, [it is] near, and hasteth greatly, [even] the voice of the day of the LORD: The mighty man is the Nazarene.”
Praise the name of the Lord. May He come quickly!