Does Jeremiah 8:8 say that the Tawrat was changed?
Jeremiah 8:8—”This passage proves that the Tawrat has been corrupted.”
“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?” (Jeremiah 8:8)To those familiar with the overall theme of Jeremiah, it is obvious that this verse is talking about teaching falsehood in Scripture interpretation (tafsir) , not changing a written text. Jeremiah clearly did not doubt the integrity of the Law of the LORD, since he repeatedly urges Israel to follow God’s Law which God has “set before you” (Jeremiah 26:4). It would be contradictory for him to tell people to obey a Law which has been changed.
Here is why this verse cannot teach that the Torah had been changed: In Jeremiah’s day, the Israelites though God would turn a blind eye to their idolatry and never punish them. The Jewish scribes, priests and prophets pandered to sinful Israel by not publishing to Israel the portions of Torah which predicted judgment for disobedience, but only Torah passages which predicted peace. Jeremiah’s overall message to them from God was, “you are going to be destroyed for disobedience as the Law clearly warns, unlike what the scribes are saying.” Jeremiah soon turned out to be right, for Israel was promptly destroyed and scattered by the Babylonians.
Once we know the immediate context, it is clear what Jeremiah was saying here. Jeremiah was condemning the scribes (religious teachers) for selectively publishing only Torah verses which seem to predict comfort and peace (ignoring the prerequisite of obedience), and utterly concealing the Torah verses which clearly predicted judgment for disobedience. In their speeches, commentaries and writings, these clerics were predicting the exact opposite of what the Law clearly predicts.
If Jeremiah were saying that the scribes had actually changed the text, it would have meant that they erased the explicit warnings about judgment for disobedience. But we find these warnings still in the text in Deuteronomy 28:15-68. This verse is clearly not talking about textual corruption of the sacred Word, for not only the Bible but the Qur’ān also teaches that God’s Word cannot be changed. Jesus, just like Jeremiah, was hostile to Jewish clerics for ignoring the Torah Law and teaching the Talmud instead, but he said clearly,
“I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.” (Matthew 5:18)It couldn’t be said more explicitly. There are many more verse which teach exactly the same thing: Psalm 119:89; Proverbs 30:5; `Īsāiah 40:8; 1 Peter 1:23; 1 Peter 1:25; 2 Peter 1:20; 2 Timothy 3:16. It is simply deceitful to take one verse like this out of context to ‘prove’ that Scripture has been changed when there are hundreds of clear verses beside it that clearly say the opposite. It is like saying that the Qur’ān teaches that “Ezra is the Son of Allah” just because those three words are found in the Qur’ān (9:30).
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