Adam Clarke's Commentary on the Bible

Verse 6 (Psalms 40:6)

Sacrifice and offering - The apostle, Hebrews 10:5 , etc., quoting this and the two following verses, says, When he (the Messiah) cometh into the world - was about to be incarnated, He saith - to God the Father, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldst not - it was never thy will and design that the sacrifices under thy own law should be considered as making atonement for sin; they were only designed to point out my incarnation and consequent sacrificial death: and therefore a body hast thou prepared me, by a miraculous conception in the womb of a virgin; according to thy word, The seed of the woman shall bruise the head of the serpent.

A body hast thou prepared me - The quotation of this and the two following verses by the apostle, Hebrews 10:5 , etc., is taken from the Septuagint, with scarcely any variety of reading: but, although the general meaning is the same, they are widely different in verbal expression in the Hebrew. David's words are לי כרית אזנים oznayim caritha lli , which we translate, My ears hast thou opened; but they might be more properly rendered, My ears hast thou bored; that is, Thou hast made me thy servant for ever, to dwell in thine own house: for the allusion is evidently to the custom mentioned Exodus 21:2 , etc.: "If thou buy a Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve, and in the seventh he shall go out free: but if the servant shall positively say, I love my master, etc., I will not go out free; then his master shall bring him to the doorpost, and shall bore his ear through with an awl, and he shall serve him for ever."

But how is it possible that the Septuagint and the apostle should take a meaning so totally different from the sense of the Hebrew? Dr. Kennicott has a very ingenious conjecture here: he supposes that the Septuagint and apostle express the meaning of the words as they stood in the copy from which the Greek translation was made; and that the present Hebrew text is corrupted in the word אזנים oznayim , ears, which has been written through carelessness for גוה אז az gevah , Then, a Body The first syllable, אז az , Then, is the same in both; and the latter, Myn, which, joined to אז makes אזנים oznayim , might have been easily mistaken for גוה gevah , Body; נ nun being very like ג gimel ; י yod like ו vau ; and h he like final ם mem ; especially if the line on which the letters were written in the MS. happened to be blacker than ordinary, which has often been a cause of mistake, it might then have been easily taken for the under-stroke of the mem, and thus give rise to a corrupt reading; add to this, the root כרה carah signifies as well to prepare, as to open, bore, etc. On this supposition the ancient copy translated by the Septuagint, and followed by the apostle, must have read the text thus: לי כרית גוה אז az gevah charitha lli ; Σωμα δε κατηρτισω μοι· Then a body thou hast prepared me: thus the Hebrew text, the version of the Septuagint, and the apostle, will agree in what is known to be an indisputable fact in Christianity; namely, that Christ was incarnated for the sin of the world.

The Ethiopic has nearly the same reading: the Arabic has both, "A body hast thou prepared me, and mine ears thou hast opened." But the Syriac, the Chaldee, and the Vulgate, agree with the present Hebrew text; and none of the MSS. collated by Kennicott and De Rossi have any various reading on the disputed words.

It is remarkable, that all the offerings and sacrifices which were considered to be of an atoning or cleansing nature, offered under the law, are here enumerated by the psalmist and the apostle, to show that none of them, nor all of them, could take away sin; and that the grand sacrifice of Christ was that alone which could do it.

Four kinds are here specified, both by the psalmist and the apostle: viz. Sacrifice, זבח zebach , θυσια ; Offering, מנחה minchah , προσφορα ; Burnt-Offering, עולה olah , ὁλοκαυτωμα ; Sin-Offering, חטאה chataah , περι ἁμαρτιας . Of all these we may say, with the apostle, it was impossible that the blood of bulls and goats, etc. should take away sin.

Thou hast had no pleasure - Thou couldst never be pleased with the victims under the law; thou couldst never consider them as atonements for sin, as they could never satisfy thy justice, nor make thy law honorable.

- Adam Clarke's Commentary on the Bible