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Why are the Psalms numbered differently?


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Philip Kosloski - published on 10/06/18

On occasion various Bibles will give the same Psalms two different numbers. Why is that?

When reading a quotation from the book of Psalms, sometimes the chapter and verse cited will be different. This can be confusing when you want to find the rest of a Psalm and can’t seem to find the verse you saw somewhere else.

Why is there a difference in Psalm numbers?

First of all, the Bible has not always had a numbering system. It was initially passed down orally and then when it was written down, it didn’t have chapters and verses. These developed over time and It wasn’t until the last few centuries when they became more specific.


Read more:
Who divided the Bible into chapters and verses?

In terms of the Psalms, there exist two different numbering systems based on two ancient translations. The first is the Hebrew Masoretic text, which is a collection of ancient texts written in Hebrew in the 7th century BC. Most modern translations of the Bible use the Hebrew text as a primary source and the numbering system that is associated with it.

The second translation of the Psalms is the Greek Septuagint, written during the 2nd century BC. This translation of the Psalms has a slightly different numbering system and most ancient translations of the Bible use it. For example, the Latin Vulgate uses it, along the the Douay-Rheims and other translations of the Psalms based on the Vulgate.

In some Bibles they will list both numbers, having the Hebrew numbering system first with the Greek numbers in brackets.

It is a small difference but just enough to be confusing when trying to look up a certain Psalm.


Read more:
Check out this Bible translation timeline

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