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An Examination of the Marginal Note
for Psalm 12:7 in the 1611 KJV Bible

Copyright©2006, 2010, 2011 by Daniel B. Sedory



The following image was made from a digital photograph of an original "Great He" edition of the Holy Bible printed in 1611 by Robert Barker (London, England). The image contains the words of Psalm 12 verses 6-8 and their marginal notes. (We believe the King's Translators would be appalled if they knew copies of their Bible version were being printed without any of its translation notes! They also wrote a very long preface about their translation which never appears in Authorized Versions printed in the USA; except for facsimile reprints of early British editions.)

Observe the () symbol in verse 7 (between the words "preserve" and "them"): "Thou shalt keepe them, (O LORD,) thou shalt preserve them, from this generation for ever."

That symbol connects the word "them" to the marginal note: " †Heb. him. i. every one of them." Thus, the KJV's own translators state the Hebrew word here actually means him (so it's impossible for it to refer to the word, "words" in verse 6). Then they explain why it was translated as "them" (the little "i." is short for 'i.e.' or: that is): Because "him" represents "every one of them" (an obvious reference to the poor and needy in verse 5), so they decided to make it plural. What's the plural of 'him' in English? It is: 'Them.' Unfortunately, Bibles without this note from the King's Translators, make it difficult for those who have no knowledge of Hebrew to know the word "them" here must refer to the people1 in verse 5. Hopefully our readers now see the importance of having such a note in their Bible2.


If anyone doubts the veracity of this image, you can view the whole page containing all of Psalm 12 from
another 1611 edition of the Holy Bible, here (page '3B6' recto; or, PagePosition=651; JavaScript required.)

How to read the Printed Text of the Original Authorized Version

The last word in the last phrase of verse 6 is "times" and its last letter ("s") appears just as we print one today.
However, an "s" anywhere else in a word was printed similar to an f; but with only the left half of the crossbar:
= "purified seven" Note that "u" was often substituted for "v".


[Back to Text] Even though this evidence is available on the Internet and in facsimile reprints (exact copies of 1611 Bible editions), some 'preachers' still refuse to recant their erroneous view of this passage. Instead, they revert to arguments that require an impossible stretch in basic English grammar: They
complain this marginal note is attached to only one "them" in verse 7 ("preserve them"); not both.

I trust that God "keeps [His words]" too; as should any Believer who reads Isaiah 40:8 ("But the word of our God stands forever.") and many of the verses in Psalm 119; expressing the same thought. However, there's only one way those 'preachers' can still cling to the view this passage somehow has anything to do with a particular translation of the Bible:

They must twist the straightforward understanding of this verse by attempting to force the last phrase, "from this generation for ever" to connect with "Thou shalt keep them" (though it says nothing about translated words at all), without ever explaining why the Spirit would confusingly (if they were correct) bring up a completely different subject in an intervening phrase before finishing a short thought that grammatically cries out for there to be nothing in between! We could also add that later corrected editions (such as Blayney's 1769 edition; often considered to be the real KJV Bible by so many), do not have a comma after the second "them"; showing that all later editors understood "preserve them" as obviously being connected to what follows ("from this generation for ever").

Some Insight into the Hebrew Text from the King's Translators

So what's the basis for the King's Translators noting the word they translated as "them" was actually "him" in the Hebrew text? If you open any Hebrew Interlinear Bible, you'll eventually discover that word ("him") is only part of a single Hebrew word they translated as "thou shalt preserve them"; which comes from the verb to keep, guard against danger or preserve (Strong's #05341 root: natsar). In the Hebrew text, that word (represented here by English characters) is: teets-rennu , and it's the "nu" at the end (a suffix) that tells us "preserve" must be related to a '3rd person masculine singular' object identified by the Translators as him (even though they translated it as "them"). But what about the first "them" in this verse? Well, that word is part of the verb shamar (Strong's #08104; a synonym of natsar); which is written in the Hebrew text as teesh-meh-raim, and translated as "Thou shalt keep them." It's suffix "aim" means that the verb takes a '3rd person masculine plural' as its object. Now think: What is the only difference between these two verbs concerning their suffixes? Let's continue. What you now have here is a good idea why the King's Translators decided to translate the object of the second verb ("preserve") in the plural (changing him to —> them) just as they did for the first verb ("keep"): It's because they knew both of these verbs must refer to a masculine object; for which there's really only one choice in this section of Scripture!

Before we continue, you need to know that because a Hebrew verb is what we call grammatically masculine, that does not necessarily mean it must refer to a male; it does, however, mean it must refer to a masculine noun, pronoun or adjective. Verse 6 has two occurrences of the noun "words" (Strong's #0565, root: ’imrah or ’emrah meaning an utterance, speech or word); though the words are written slightly different in the Hebrew text (the first is: ’ee-ma-roth and the second: ’a-mah-roth) what matters in our discussion here is the fact both are 'feminine plural nouns.' Therefore, it's impossible for the verbs in verse 7 (which must have masculine objects) to refer to the two "words" in verse 6 (which are both grammatically feminine).

So, what's left in this passage for the verbs to refer to, which also 'makes sense' grammatically? Well, both the "poor" (Strong's #06041 ‘aniy — poor, afflicted, humble) and its synonym, the "needy" (Strong's #00034 ’ebyown — in want, needy, poor, abused) in verse 5 are either a 'masculine plural adjective' ("poor") or a 'masculine plural noun' ("needy"). So there's no problem at all (except for one of the verbs being in the singular; which I'd like to believe was God's way of making sure the Translators would decide a note was required here!) for either of these masculine antecedents to be the objects of the verbs "keep" and "preserve" in verse 7. Furthermore, this not only fits the requirements of Hebrew grammar, but it's also structurally quite pleasing (as poetry often is) having two verbs which refer to either of two objects (that are also synonyms): "keep" and "preserve" —> refer to —> the "poor" and "needy".


2 [Back to Text] The main reason we check to see what The NET Bible has to say is because of the many "Translator's Notes" hyperlinked from within its Text. So, you can often look up their reasons for translating the text the way they did! Although you certainly don't have to agree with all their choices, this provides a rather nice format for discovering what the translators considered to be 'problematic passages' and how they decided to handle them.





Created: 20 June 2006 (2006.06.20).
Revised: 27 October 2010 (2010.10.27)
Updated: 14 November 2010 (2010.11.14)
Last Update: 5 March 2011 (2011.3.5)