In various places in the Gospels, Yahshua is very critical of the scribes and the Pharisees. Even before this time, there was severe criticism of the scribes. In the eighth chapter of the Book of Jeremiah, the prophet relays the message of Yahweh in regard to these men. This essay refers to verses eight and nine of this chapter.Below, the verse is quoted from twenty-one versions of the Scriptures. Although the wording may differ slightly, or one version may be more forceful than another, the message is basically the same.
- AAT – An American Translation (Beck)
- AB – Amplified Bible
- GW – God’s Word
- JBK – Jerusalem Bible (Koren)
- KJV – King James Version
- KTC – Knox Translation
- LB – Living Bible
- LBP – Lamsa Bible
- LXX – The Septuagint
- MNT – Moffatt New Translation
- NAB – New American Bible
- NBV – New Berkeley Version
- NCV – New Century Version
- NIV – New International Version
- NJB – New Jerusalem Bible
- NLT – New Living Translation
- REB – Revised English Bible
- SGAT – An American Translation (Smith-Goodspeed)
- SISR – The Scriptures (ISR)
- TBR – The Bible Reader
- TEV – Today’s English Version
Jeremiah 8: 8, 9
AAT – How can you say: We are wise,
and the LORD’s law is with us.
Surely the scholars with their lying pens
have made it a lie.
Wise men feel ashamed, confused, and caught.
You see, they have rejected the LORD’s Word,
so what wisdom have they got?
AB – How can you say, We are wise and we have the written laws of the Lord [and are learned in its language and teachings]? Lo, the truth is, the lying pen of the scribes has made of the law a falsehood [a mere code of ceremonial observances]. [Mark 7: 13]
The wise men shall be put to shame, they shall be dismayed and taken captive. Lo, they have rejected the word of the Lord, and what wisdom and broad, full intelligence is in them?
GW – “How can you say that you are wise
and that you have the LORD’s teachings”?
The scribes have used their pens to turn these teachings into lies.
Wise people are put to shame, confused, and trapped.
They have rejected the word of the LORD.
They don’t really have any wisdom.
JBK – How can you say, We are wise, and the Tora of the LORD is with us? Surely, the pen wrought in vain, in vain the scribes. The wise men are ashamed, they are dismayed and taken: lo, they have rejected the word of the LORD; and what wisdom is in them?
KJV – How do ye say, We are wise, and the law of the LORD is with us? Lo, certainly in vain made he it; the pen of the scribes is in vain.
The wise men are ashamed, they are dismayed and taken: lo, they have rejected the word of the LORD; and what wisdom is in them?
KTC – What, still boasting that you are wise, that the Lord’s law finds its home among you? Nay, but the scribes, with their false penmanship, have construed all amiss. In all their wisdom, how disappointed, how bewildered, how entrapped! God’s word they cast away, and wisdom left them.
LB – How can you say, “We understand his laws,” when your teachers have twisted them up to mean a thing I never said? These wise teachers of yours will be shamed by exile for this sin, for they have rejected the word of the Lord. Are they then so wise?
LBP – How do you say, We are wise, and the law of the LORD is with us? Lo, surely the lying pen of the scribes has made it for falsehood.
The wise men are ashamed, they are defeated and caught because they have rejected the word of the LORD, and there is no wisdom in them.
Footnote: The scribes have interpreted it falsely, and written wrong comments on it.
LXX – How will you say, We are wise, and the law of the Lord is with us? In vain have the scribes used a false pen.
The wise men are ashamed, and alarmed, and taken; because they have rejected the word of the Lord; what wisdom is there in them?
MNT – What! you say, “We are wise,
we do have his directions” —
when lo, your scribes have written them wrong,
and falsified them?
No, the “wise” shall be discomfited,
dismayed and tricked.
They have rejected the Eternal’s word;
so what “wisdom” have they?
NAB – How can you say, “We are wise,
and we have the law of the LORD”?
Why, that has been changed into falsehood
by the lying pen of the scribes!
The wise are confounded,
dismayed and ensnared;
Since they have rejected the word of the LORD,
of what avail is their wisdom?
Footnote: Lying pen of the scribes: because the interpretations and ordinances of the scribes ran counter to the word of the Lord.
NBV – How dare you say, “We are wise, and the teaching of the LORD is with us”? But see, the falsifying pen of the scribes made it into a fabrication. The wise men are put to shame, they are dumfounded and trapped; since they have spurned the word of the LORD, what kind of wisdom is there in them?
Footnote: Jeremiah implies that the scribes have falsified the traditional body of divine directions respecting religious practices.
NCV – You keep saying, “We are wise,
because we have the teachings of the LORD.”
But actually, those who explain the Scriptures
have written lies with their pens.
These wise men refused to listen to the word of the LORD,
so they are not really wise at all.
They will be ashamed.
They will be shocked and trapped.
NIV – How can you say, “We are wise,
for we have the law of the LORD,”
when actually the lying pen of the scribes
has handled it falsely?
The wise will be put to shame;
they will be dismayed and trapped.
Since they have rejected the word of the LORD,
what kind of wisdom do they have?
NJB – How can you say, “We are wise,
since we have Yahweh’s Law?”
Look how it has been falsified
by the lying pens of the scribes!
The wise are put to shame,
alarmed, caught out
because they rejected Yahweh’s word.
What price their wisdom now?
NLT – How can you say, “We are wise because we have the law of the LORD,” when your teachers have twisted it so badly? These wise teachers will be shamed by exile for their sin, for they have rejected the word of the LORD. Are they so wise after all?
REB – How can you say, “We are wise,
we have the law of the LORD,”
when scribes with their lying pens
have falsified it?
The wise are put to shame;
they are dismayed and trapped.
They have spurned the word of the LORD,
so what sort of wisdom is theirs?
SGAT – How can you say, “We are wise,
and the law of the LORD is with us”?
When lo! the lying pen of the scribes
Has turned it into a lie!
So the wise shall be put to the blush,
They shall be dumbfounded and taken;
For lo! they have spurned the word of the LORD —
And what wisdom, then, have they?
SISR – How do you say, “We are wise, and the Torah of Yahweh is with us”? But look, the false pen of the scribe has worked falsehood.
The wise shall be put to shame, they shall be broken down and caught. See, they have rejected the Word of Yahweh, so what wisdom do they have?
TBR – How can you say, “We are wise,
and the law of the LORD is with us”?
But, behold, the false pen of the scribes
has made it into a law.
The wise men shall be put to shame,
they shall be dismayed and taken;
lo, they have rejected the word of the LORD,
and what wisdom is in them?
Footnote: The people evidently denied Jeremiah’s charges, asserting that they lived by the Mosaic Law. Jeremiah retorts that the leaders destroy the Law in a greedy effort to obtain gain.
TEV – How can you say that you are wise and that you know my laws? Look, the laws have been changed by dishonest scribes. Your wise men are put to shame; they are confused and trapped. They have rejected my words; what wisdom do they have now?
Basically, what is being told through the prophet is that the scribes have made changes in the Law of Yahweh in their writings. Does this mean that the text of Scripture containing the Law has been altered by the scribes to change its meaning? Does it mean that they have written misinterpretations of the Law?
Who are the scribes?
Halley’s Bible Handbook states that “scribes were copyists of the Scripture. Their business was to study and interpret, as well as copy, the Scriptures. Because of their minute acquaintance into the Law, they were also called lawyers, and were recognized authorities. The decisions of leading scribes became oral law, or ‘tradition.'”
Considering how meticulous the scribes were in their copying, there is probably less likelihood of their altering of the text. However, this possibility cannot be completely ruled out. There is some evidence of this having been done on occasion. An example is the altering of Yahweh’s name to LORD, L-rd, or Jehovah.
There is more evidence of the misinterpretation of the Law by the scribes. Yahshua made reference to this.
From Smith’s Bible Dictionary we read, “They devoted themselves to the careful study of the text, and laid down rules for transcribing it with the most scrupulous precision. As time passed on, ‘the words of the scribes’ were honored above the Law. It was a greater crime to offend against them than against the Law. The first step was taken toward annulling the commandments of God for the sake of their own traditions.”
It would appear that there may have been personal gain for scribes in their misinterpretation of the Law. Their status in society was very high. They were the ones who supposedly best knew the Law.
There had been warnings against adding to or taking from the Law prior to this time. References include Deuteronomy 4: 2, Deuteronomy 12: 32, and Proverbs 30: 5-6. Apparently, the scribes of Jeremiah’s day had not heeded these warnings. The references do not mean the “Bible” as some Christians believe, but the Law. Where a version uses “Word,” it means the Law. Yahweh stressed the importance of obeying the Law. This is clear in both the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. In Deuteronomy 28: 45 is a warning of what will happen if people do not keep the Laws of Yahweh.