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The Most Original Bible Text: How to Get There
According to Hendel, the reading of Exodus 1:3 found in the Masoretic Text (far right) represents a deliberate scribal alteration of a more original text preserved by the Qumran fragment known as 4QExodb. At issue is whether Joseph’s name should be included in the list in Exodus 1:1–4, outlined in blue, which records the names of those who went to Egypt with Jacob. The MT omits Joseph from the list, explaining in Exodus 1:5 that he was already in Egypt. 4QExodb, by contrast, lists Joseph’s name (shown in red letters beneath the fragment) alongside that of his brother Benjamin in Exodus 1:3, the verse highlighted in yellow on each of the documents at right. This reading, Hendel suggests, is the more original one, since the MT reading probably reflects a later editorial adjustment designed to make the text consistent with the scribe’s knowledge of the circumstances surrounding the descent of Jacob’s family into Egypt.

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