Psalm 110 and the DSS
Explaining Psalm 110:1 from the view of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
There has been a great debate among scholars on what Psalm 110:1 says. Does it say, “to my Lord” (Adoni in Hebrew) or does it say, “to LORD” (Adonai in Hebrew)? Anyone who has studied Hebrew long enough knows that the vowel points in Hebrew that make Adoni came from the Masoretic text between the 7th and 10th century CE. The Hebrew word Mesorah refers to the transmission of a tradition. The vowel points that were added in the MT are based on a traditional belief and denial of the deity of the Jewish Messiah Yeshua. I believe by looking back to the Dead Sea Scrolls and seeing how the Hebrew word was used we can finally see what the intent of the author had in mind.
The Hebrew word in the MT of Psalm 110:1 with the vowel points is Adoni, A-D-N-Y. The Hebrew letters used without the vowel points is A-D-N-Y, the very same letters used for both. Adoni is believed to only mean master and not used of YHWH directly though the Hebrew root “adon” can be used for both man and God. The claim is that this word is only referred to men and angels only. We do not have a complete reading of the DSS on Psalm 110:1 but we can look at other texts in the DSS and see if we can find the usage of A-D-N-Y, without the vowel points, to YHWH God himself. Remember, there were no vowel points in the DSS, so if we can find the usage of A-D-N-Y like the one in Psalm 110:1 and that usage is directed to YHWH God then we can know for sure that the writers of the DSS saw no distinction of the word.
If we look at Isaiah 21:16 in the DSS we find the following below directed and speaking about YHWH, see verse 17. Also below the Isaiah passage, you will see the Psalm 110:1 passage with vowel points added much later.
“For thus has the Lord (ADNY) said to me, Within a year, according to the years of a hireling, and all the glory of Kedar shall fail;”
כי-כה אמר אדני אלי בעוד שנה כשני שכיר וכלה כל-כבוד קדר DSS
“A Psalm of David. The Lord says to my Lord (ADNY), Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool”
לְדָוִדִמְזמֹורְנֻאםיְהוָה לַ אֹדִניׁ שֵבלִיִמינִיעַד-ָאׁשִיתֹאְיבֶיךֲָהדֹםְלַרגְֶליךָ MT
DSS and the MT
We need to remember that the Psalm passage has the prefix Lamed in Hebrew and it means “to”. There is no difference in the Hebrew spelling for each word. Both use A-D-N-Y in the passage. Isaiah is using the same Hebrew word and is speaking about YHWH God of Israel in verse 17. The MT added the vowel points to Psalm 110 in order to change the true meaning of the word. Now let us compare Psalms 110:1 with and without the vowel points.
“A Psalm of David. The Lord (YHWH) says to my Lord (ADNY), Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.”
א.לְדָוִדִמְזמֹורְנֻאםיְהוָה לַ אֹדִניׁ שֵבלִיִמינִיעַד-ָאׁשִיתֹאְיבֶיךֲָהדֹםְלַרגְֶליךָ:
לדוד מזמור נאם יהוה ל אדני שב לימיני עד-אשית איביך הדם לרגליך:
When reading the very next passage in Psalm 110:1 we can see, “Sit at my right hand…” This is agreed by all to be the Messiah who will sit at the right hand of God. But if this is the Messiah who will sit at the right hand and if it’s not Adonai as suggested then how can verse 5 say, “ADONAI [qamets] (YHWH) at your right hand” The one at the right hand according to verse 1 is the Messiah who is, according to the MT, “adoni” “master”. Is it possible that the MT is incorrect in having the vowel points to say, “adoni” or “master” when verse 5 tells you its ADONAI or YHWH? The evidence is clear from above and the context of verse 5 that the original meaning should have been ADONAI [qamets] and not Adoni.
NOTE: The Aramaic Targum of Psalm 110:1 reads in the following way,
“YHWH said to his Word (Memra)…”
When we look at how the rest of the scripture and the uses of A-D-N-Y without the vowel points one will notice that there are no distinctions between Psalm 110:1 and the rest of the TaNaKh. Isaiah uses the very same word in Hebrew for YHWH God throughout his book. The DSS was the language of their time not the MT with vowel points. I challenge anyone to go through the book of Isaiah and see the many places where A-D-N-Y is used without the vowel points in connection with YHWH God. A-D-N-Y without the vowel points does refer to YHWH God. The vowel points are man-made and have no place in the historical ancient language of the Hebrew.
Yeshua made the claim that he could not just be a man from the line of David if David calls the Messiah in Psalm 110:1 Lord, (Mark 12:35-37). The Messiah in Psalm 110 is shown to have existed prior to the incarnation and David addresses him directly. Yeshua claims to be the Messiah in Psalm 110:1 that David is speaking about. The issue of Adoni and Adonai is irrelevant if the Messiah pre-existed as Yeshua claims. For more on the preexistence of the Messiah see the blog and Genesis 1:1-4 and John 1:1-5 connection.
By The Hebrew Institute.net, written by Dr.Al Garza