This video claims that the following excerpt is a verse of the Isiah scroll of the dead sea scrolls.
The claim also appears in here.
Is it true?
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This is discussed in Wikipedia, discussing Isaiah 42:1:
The first verse begins with: "Behold my Servant, whom I uphold; mine Elect...". The Hebrew word which was translated to "whom I uphold" is "אתמך"(Atmc). This word never appears anywhere in the entire Bible except here. Muslim authors, pointing to the similarity between the writing of "אתמך"(Atmc) and the writing of "אחמד" which is the name Ahmad, suggested that an intended distortion might have been done by the scribes of Scripture in the first verse of this chapter in order to hide the name of the Chosen Servant of God which is "אחמד" (Ahmad).
As translated by Fred P. Miller the scroll says:
Behold my servant, whom I uphold; my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I put my spirit upon him: and his judgement will go out to the Gentiles.
The original scroll can be viewed here http://dss.collections.imj.org.il/isaiah#42:1 to form ones own opinion.
The claim is completely nonsensical, and while I did take a few minutes to watch the film, you can see why it’s nonsensical just by looking at the screenshot that you have provided in your question.
Even if the Hebrew really says הן עבדי אחמד בו (and I will come in a moment to why that is not at all what it’s saying), it still could not possibly mean, “Behold my servant, Ahmad”. Aside from the very significant fact that Ahmad, an Arabic name, is nowhere attested anywhere within the DSS or the Hebrew Bible, etc, אחמד (the Hebrew word) means “I will delight”. Treating it as though it were a name can only be at the expense of ignoring the following word, בו, as this mistranslation does.
הן עבדי אחמד בו means “behold my servant, in whom I delight”, just as הן עבדי אתמך בו (which is what the passage actually says) means “behold my servant whom I uphold”. It doesn’t mean, “Behold my servant, Atmakh” for the same reason: Atmakh (like Ahmad) is an otherwise unattested name, and treating it as a name can only be at the cost of ignoring the following word, בו.
As for the rest, while it falls beyond the scope of this question, know that the information recorded in this video (and I wish to be as respectful as possible) is complete garbage. The idea that the waw (ו) can represent “any vowel” is total nonsense. The kind of nonsense that can only possibly fool anybody who doesn’t know how to read Hebrew, or who has never heard of the Dead Sea Scrolls. And the idea that Qumran scribes had “an Aramaic accent” is bafflingly weird.
The notion that an anonymous scribe might have come along and fiddled with a text because they didn’t want anybody to see the name of the prophet who wasn’t going to be born for another seven hundred years is also, in my opinion, pretty ridiculous, but I have less of an issue with that. Religious people believe some strange things. I know; I’m one of them. The challenge is basing those strange things on evidence, not making up the necessary evidence to support them.
-TL;DR This passage says אתמך, but even if it didn’t, it still wouldn’t mean “Ahmad”.
A very firm no.
No Jewish scholar would accept that, no Christian scholar neither, and one can be confident that no serious Muslim scholar would accept that. Or agnostic or atheist for that matter. It is plainly absolutely absurd on every level.
The Muslim tradition says that this passage means Mohammed as being the unnamed servant referred to in that passage. That's fine, for a religious opinion, if you want to derive that from the (current) Hebrew text. But that "Ahmad" would be spelled out there as a proper name is just not the case. Not the case for any variant of that text at all.
In no text is there an exchange of two letters observable that would prove this claim. And consequently the video fails to deliver the proof.
It should be enough to point to the 'logic' of the claim.
The claim basically says: When Islam was invented and scared the Jews and Christians, the text of Isaiah was corrupted intentionally to hide the proof that the new sect was superior as evidenced by their supposed founder being prophetically written about in the bible, although the name was in hidden form to begin with? –– A hundred years ago that would have worked, perhaps. As then we didn't have any good manuscripts older than the alleged lifetime of that founder of the movement.
But now we have.
The Dead Sea Scrolls are clearly much older than anything Islam. And this claim now tries to convince people that malicious scribes corrupted the text hundreds of years before the – in their eyes – false prophet would come about? Plus, only in one text that is not only old but contrary to scholarly consensus also the supposedly only variant that has this spelling? While all others even in this conspiracy theory do not have this spelling? That would make the DSS Isaiah scroll the original? That then also contradicts the even older Septuagint Greek bible text that utterly failed as well to introduce 'Ahmad' to the world via hiding the name in Isaiah? –– From all of this we would have to conclude that this conspiracy against Islam was a very long game. A continuous operation starting a full millennium before Islam saw the light of day.
But even more:
The Dead Sea Scrolls version of Isaiah 42 has variants to the text compared to the Masoretic text that forms the standard base for the bible.
But those variants are not even in the place the claim asserts:
The standard version:
א הֵן עַבְדִּי אֶתְמָךְ-בּוֹ, בְּחִירִי רָצְתָה נַפְשִׁי; נָתַתִּי רוּחִי עָלָיו, מִשְׁפָּט לַגּוֹיִם יוֹצִיא.
Behold My servant, whom I uphold; Mine elect, in whom My soul delighteth; I have put My spirit upon him, he shall make the right to go forth to the nations.
–– Mechon Mamre Isaiah Chapter 42 יְשַׁעְיָהוּ
‘Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will bring justice to the nations.
You'll notice that in one of the oldest variant – the Greek Septuagint fell out of use early – the otherwise unusual practice of reading about a servant without name, is again the standard pattern of introducing a servant with a name, to not leave any doubts about identity. The passage above from Greek to English:
Jacob is my servant, I will help him: Israel is my chosen, my soul has accepted him; I have put my Spirit upon him; he shall bring forth judgement to the Gentiles.
The Dead Sea Scroll Great Isaiah Scroll, 1Qlsaa:
Chapter 42 : Verse 1 Here is my servant, whom I support, my chosen, in whom my soul delights. I have placed my spirit on him so that he may deliver his justice to the nations.
Translation: Professor Peter Flint (Trinity Western University, Canada) and Professor Eugene Ulrich (University of Notre Dame)
Or more scholarly:
–– Donald Parry and Elisha Qimron: "The Great Isaiah Scroll (1QIsaª). A New Edition", Studies on the Texts of the Desert of Judah, Volume: 32, Brill: Leiden, Boston, 2018.
It is pure invention to claim that the scribes of that scroll wanted to hide 'Ahmad' by way of corrupting one letter at the time the scroll was written.
The claim video states that it would be read
not etmak (אתמך) but Ahmad (אחמד)
Screenshots from the video:
Perhaps you noticed that these letterforms are different from the transcriptions, which use more modern quadratic script.
To compare the characters in question, there is a table ready:
Letter name (Unicode) Variants Contemporary Early modern Ancestral Block serif Block sans-serif Cursive Rashi Phoenician Paleo-Hebrew Aramaic
The scribe of that scroll has a distinct Aramaic slant (see quote below) and the similarity to what is claimed is so the complete opposite of the claim that it should be self-evident.
Two more screenshots from the video:
Now, the first picture is really worth a closer look. Which letter shows more resemblance to what is claimed (scroll up again for the higher res picture of the scroll's passage)?
For a small hint:
As the most authoratative on the subject Emanuel Tov writes:
The one scroll of Isaiah which has been studied more than any of the Qumran biblical scrolls, and more than any of the nonbiblical scrolls, is the "large" Isaiah scroll from cave 1, 1QIsaa, probably written in 150–125 BCE. This text was named the "large" Isaiah scroll since it has been preserved in its entirety, in contradistinction with the "small" Isaiah scroll, 1QIsab.
Even today, after most of the Qumran texts have either been published or are known in some form or other, lQIsaa stands out as the scroll about which more aspects have been researched and hence are known better than the other Qumran biblical texts. It has been published in two facsimile editions (Burrows and Cross; see note 14), and one transliteration (Burrows, see note 14). The most extensive linguistic treatment of any of the Qumran texts has been devoted to this scroll. Likewise, the most extensive study to date on scribal habits is devoted to this and several other texts from cave 1. The only biblical text from Qumran on which a "literary analysis" was composed is the Isaiah scroll. More than 75 scholarly articles have been written on various aspects of this scroll. The readings of this scroll are listed as variants deviating from the MT in the third apparatus of the seventh edition of the Biblia Hebraica and in the Hebrew University Bible. Since it was a novelty to be able to compare the medieval Masoretic Text with an ancient manuscript dating from the time of the tum of the eras, virtually every aspect of the scroll was studied in monographic articles.
The bottom line of any comparative analysis of the texts of Isaiah is that the amount of variation is relatively limited. The present textual data for Isaiah thus point to a picture of textual unity, such as might have been expected for the Pentateuch, but as it happens, Isaiah presents a much more closely-knit textual tradition than the books of the Pentateuch, or the other two comparable books of the Prophets, Jeremiah and Ezekiel. The main textual feature recognizable for the Isaiah texts is the existence of two different scribal traditions, recognizable in differences in the area of orthography, morphology, and scribal habits. In this regard, however, the situation in Isaiah is not characteristic of this book only. The two groups of texts are the group of the MT and the LXX on the one hand and on the other hand a group of texts probably produced by the "Qumran scribal school."
(4) The scribe of this manuscript was more influenced by Aramaic than most other scribes of scrolls found in Qumran,54 although a relatively sizable number of Aramaisms is found in another scroll, 4QCantb, written in a different orthographic convention.
–– Emanuel Tov: "The Text of Isaiah at Qumran", in: Craig C. Broyles & Craig A. Evans: "Writing And Reading The Scroll of Isaiah Studies of an Interpretive Tradition", Supplements To Vetus Testamentum, Volume LXX,2 Formation and Interpretation of Old Testament Literature 1,2, Brill: Leiden, Boston, 1997.
Add to that what Hebrew paleographer Ada Yardeni asserts:
Cross distinguished three main phases in the evolution of the “Jewish” script. Most of the documents from Qumran represent the first two phases while some fragments belong to an earlier phase termed “pre-Jewish”.
"Jewish" alphabet taken from 1QIsa.a scroll (late 2nd or early 1st century BCE) (src: "Paleography as a tool" PDF)
Since the presenter in that video knows nothing about what they are talking about, the following might help a bit:
The Jewish script known from most of the Judean desert scrolls was crystallised in the second half of the 2nd century BCE. An Isaiah Scroll from Qumran (1QIsaa; fig. 53), representing an early stage in the crystallisation of the Jewish script, dates from that time: i.e., the Hasmonean period. It is written with a frayed calamus, all the letter-strokes being of almost the same thickness. Ornamental additions begin to appear, mainly in the form of vertical serifs (which, as we have seen, are inherited), in the letters Bet, Dalet, Kaf, Mem, Qof and Resh, as well as an additional stroke slanting downwards to the left on the left edge of He and occasionally of Taw and of final Mem. A large 'hook' curves downwards from the top of Lamed. The top of Gimel, Zayin, Nun and Sadi sometimes curves backwards, as the right downstroke of Dalet, Het and Kaf also does occasionally. In 1QIsaa there is almost no distinction between medial and final forms of Kaf, Pe and Sadi, although that distinction already began to appear in the Aramaic script and is almost regular in the earlier 4QSamb and 4QJera. This may be accounted for by a difference between scribal traditions or between levels of writing.
These are some major features of the letters in 1QIsaa: the letters Kaf, Mem, Nun, Pe and Sadi are still relatively long, extending below the imaginary base-line, while Ayin and Lamed are relatively short, ending above that imaginary line. The 'roofs' in Bet, Dalet, Het, Kaf, Samekh and Resh are occasionally slanted or concave. Bet still has no 'tail' at the lower right corner. The 'base' of Kaf slants downwards to the left. Lamed has a very long 'hook'. Final Mem is very long; its 'roof is emphasized and its 'base' extends beyond its meeting-point with the left downstroke, which occasionally terminates above the base. Samekh is open at its lower left corner. Qof is short and small. Taw has a high shoulder.
–– Ada Yardeni: "The Book of Hebrew Script History, Palaeography, Script Styles, Calligraphy & Design", The British Library and Oak Knoll Press: London, Newcastle, 1991. (p170)
To quote from STEP/OHB:
Vocab תָּמַךְ (ta.makh) 'to grasp' (H8551)
Search for this word (~20 occurrences)
1) to grasp, hold, support, attain, lay hold of, hold fast 1a) (Qal) 1a1) to grasp, lay hold of, attain 1a2) to hold up, support 1a3) to hold, keep 1a4) to take hold of each other 1b) (Niphal) to be seized, be held
Neither in the regular text nor in other early manuscripts, and also not in the Qumran Isaiah can anything like the claim be found. What can be found is how the preceding passage of Isa41:29 would say something about such claims in YouTube videos: