Understanding Jeremiah 8:8 – The lying pen of the Scribes and The Glorious Holy Quran
Mohamad Mostafa Nassar
“How can you say, ‘We are wise, and the law of the LORD is with us? But behold, the lying pen of the scribes has made it into a lie.
Verse 8 is being quoted by as proof that the Israelite scholars have been corrupting the text of their scriptures.
“Then woe to those who write the Scriptures with their own hands and then say, “This is from Allah,” to purchase with it a little price! Woe to them for what their hands have written and woe to them for that they earn thereby.” Quran 2:79
The first important clue is to note that God through the prophet Jeremiah states in verse 7: “my people do not KNOW the requirements of the LORD”. Then in verse 8 he takes up the false security of the people who claim that they have the law as if the mere possession of the law will benefit them in any way if they do not obey it and that they distort it with their false writing and interpretations.
A scribe in that time was so much a copyist as a teacher and expounder. These lying teachers are telling the people “Peace, peace” although the true prophet tells them there is no peace and will be no peace. God has announced His judgment on Israel its idolatry and disobedience. The enemies are coming, and God will NOT help. The law of God which clearly speaks of punishment for sin is disregarded and the people are lied about the promises of God’s goodness — which are in the Law too, but each has its conditions.
But the people will only gladly pay them for good news or better the lies of “favorable horoscopes” and not for the true messages of judgment and calls to repentance coming from God’s eternal word. So, because of greed they trade the truth of God’s word for the gains that come from the lies of false promises written down by the scribes.
Jeremiah announces God’s judgment against Israel because of their sin and disobedience. The people in Jerusalem are kept in false security by “the lying pens of the scribes” that nobody would be able to touch them because this is the place of God’s Temple and surely God would miraculously rescue them as He has done previously. Jeremiah delivers God’s word against t
The “lying pen of the scribes” is guilty of changing the text of the law and of false application of it. They are giving the wrong interpretation out of personal greed and because they fear men more than God. In effect, Jeremiah says that they don’t “have” the Law because they don’t KEEP the Law. They corrupt the physical text of it, but they “handled” it falsely as 8:8 says.
False teaching will earn the displeasure of God, but there are others who also have the word and will speak up. Like Jeremiah in his time is sent to speak because the scribes teach lies and say that they are the true word of God.
With regards to the noble Quran, God has promised to protect the Qur’an from the change and error that happened to earlier holy texts. God says: “Indeed, it is We who sent down the Qur’an and indeed, we will be its guardian.” (Qur’an, 15:9)
For Muslims, this verse of promise from God is enough to know that He will indeed protect the Qur’an from any errors and changes over time. For people who do not accept the authenticity of the Qur’an in the first place, however, clearly this verse cannot serve as proof of its authenticity, since it is in the Qur’an itself. It is from here that the academic discussion begins.
The revelation of the Qur’an was not an isolated event in time. It was a constant stream of verses descending to Muhammad (peace be upon him) throughout the 23 years of his prophethood in Makkah and Madinah.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) appointed numerous companions of his to serve as scribes, writing down the latest verses as soon as they were revealed. Mu’awiya ibn Abu Sufyan and Zaid bin Thabit were among the scribes who had this duty. For the most part, new verses would be written on scraps of bone, hide, or parchment.
It is important to note that the Prophet (peace be upon him) would have the scribes read back the verses to him after writing them down so he can proofread and make sure there were no errors.
Allah knows Best.