Don’t go on Safari with a NKJV Translator

I can easily list a hundred bad translations found in the impostor called the New King James Version, but here are a few that should cause any serious Christian who trembles at the words of God to cast this poor imitation in the waste basket where it belongs.

Foxes or Jackals? 

Psalm 63:10 “They shall fall by the sword: they shall be a portion for FOXES.”

This word is # 7776 and is found 7 times in the Hebrew texts. All 7 are translated “foxes” in both the KJB and the NASB. The same word is found in Judges 15:4 when Samson caught 300 foxes. Foxes is the reading of the Jewish translation JPS 1917 – “they shall be a portion for foxes.”, Wycliffe 1395 – “thei schulen be maad the partis of foxes.”, Coverdale 1535, the Great Bible 1540, Matthew’s Bible 1549, the Bishops’ Bible 1568 – “and they shalbe a portion for Foxes.”, the Geneva Bible 1587, the Revised Version 1881, ASV 1901, NASB 1995, Young’s, Darby, Douay 1950, Lamsa’s translation of the Syriac, the Jewish Complete Tanach – ” they will be the portion of foxes.”, the KJV 21st Century 1995, Third Millennium Bbile 1998 and the Jubilee Bible 2000-2010.

Numerous foreign language Bibles also correctly read “FOXES”.  These include the Spanish Sagradas Escrituras 1569, Cipriano de Valera 1602, Reina Valera 1909, (but not the 1960, 95 editions), La Biblia de las Américas 1997,  the Reina Valera Gómez 2010 – “serán porción de las ZORRAS.” = “the foxes”, the Italian Diodati 1649 – “Saranno la parte delle volpi.” = “the foxes”,  the French Martin 1744 and Ostervald 1996 – “ils seront la portion des RENARDS.”, Luther’s German Bible 1545 – “den Füchsen” = “the foxes”, the Portuguese A Sagrada Biblia and the Almeida Corregida E Fiel – “serão uma ração para as raposas.” = “the foxes”, the Greek Septuagint and the Modern Greek Bible – “θελουσιν εισθαι μερις αλωπεκων.” = “they will be a portion of FOXES.”

However the NKJV says JACKALS here while it translates the other 6 instances as “foxes”.

The NIV has “foxes” 4 times and “jackals” 3 times.

The Holman Standard has “jackals” here in Psalm 63:10 yet it translates the exact same word as “FOXES” in Judges 15:4,5; Song of Solomon 2:15 and Nehemiah 4:3.

The ESV likewise translates this word as JACKALS here in Psalm 63:10 but as FOXES in Judges 15:4, 5; Song of Solomon 2:15 and Nehemiah 4:3.

The Amplified bible 1987 has amplified itself so much that it simply ADDS to the Hebrew text and includes both, saying: “they shall be a prey for FOXES AND JACKALS.” (Now, what was that in the Bible about adding to the words of God?)  

And once again we see the same pattern in the Catholic versions.  The Douay-Rheims of 1610 and Douay of 1950 both read “a portion for FOXES”.  But the 1970 St. Joseph New American bible and the 1985 New Jerusalem bible went with “JACKALS”. BUT now once again the 2009 Catholic Public Domain Version has come out, and it goes back to – ” They will be the portions of FOXES.”

 Need it be pointed out that foxes are not the same animal as a jackal?  Many women through the centuries have been fond of wearing a fox stole around their shoulders, but I don’t think that jackal stoles were ever in high demand, do you?  There IS a difference, folks.


Mice or Rats?

In 1 Samuel 6:4  we read of the event where the Philistines captured the ark of the LORD and God plagued the people because of it.  The Philistines then decided to sent it back with an offering of golden images of the emerods and MICE that marred the land.  We read of these MICE in verses 6:4, 5, 11 and 18.  The Hebrew word for mice is # 5909 and it is found only 6 times in the whole Old Testament and every time the KJB translates it as MICE or mouse.  The other two instances are Leviticus 11:29 and Isaiah 66:7.

MICE is the reading found in the Geneva Bible, the RV, ASV, NASB, RSV, NRSV, ESV, JPS 1917, Darby, Youngs, Holman Standard and the NET version.  However the NKJV has the word RATS in all four verses in 1 Samuel 6:4, 5, 11 and 18 (along with the NIV and the Message) but yet still has the word MICE or mouse in the Leviticus 11:29 and Isaiah 66:7 passages, but the NIV has all 6 instances as RATS.

Bittern or Porcupine? 

Isaiah 14:23 “I will also make it a possession for the BITTERN, and pools of water.” A bittern is a type of bird similar to a nocturnal heron. It is not an archaic word. The Hebrew word is found only three times and all three are translated as “bittern” in the KJB. The BITTERN is also found in Isaiah 34:11 and in Zephaniah 2:14. Even the 1987 Amplified version has “the bittern” in Isaiah 34:11.

 In Isaiah 14:23 Bittern is also the reading of the 1917 Jewish Publication Society translation, the 1936 Hebrew Publishing Company version, Young’s, Darby, Rotherham’s Emphasized bible 1902, the KJV 21st Century 1994, Third Millennium Bible 1998 and the Jubilee Bible 2000.

However the NKJV says here “I will make it a possession for the PORCUPINE.” Yet the NKJV translates this same Hebrew word as “bittern” in Zephaniah 2:14. Now, I’m pretty sure there is a difference between a bird and a porcupine. But wait… the NASB and ESV say it is a “HEDGEHOG” while the NIV and Holman tell us it is a “SCREECH OWLl.”

Dan Wallace and company apparently don’t know what it is so they just say “with WILD ANIMALS.” While The Voice of 2012 makes it even more vague with “ NAMELESS AND FACELESS SHADOWS.”

Isaiah chapter 34 Zoo –  Just a few comparisons in this chapter alone between the KJB and the NKJV will show that the NKJV has changed far more than Thee and Ye.

V. 7 KJB – unicorns
– NKJV – wild goats

V. 11 KJB – bittern (a bird)
– NKJV – porcupine

V. 13 KJB – dragons/owls
– NKJV – jackals/ostriches

V. 14 KJB – satyr/screech owl
– NKJV – wild goat/night creature

V. 15 KJB – great owl/vultures
– NKJV – arrow snake/hawks

Whale or Fish? 

Matthew 12:40

“For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the WHALE’S belly: so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”

The Greek word correctly translated in the King James Bible as “Whale” is ketos. I have a modern Greek dictionary called Diury’s Modern English-Greek and Greek-English Dicionary 1974. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the Bible. It’s just a Greek/English dictionary. If you look up the Greek word ketos it simply says whale. If you look up whale, it says ketos.

In Websters dictionary 1999 edition, there are two Englsih words listed which come from this Greek word ketos. Cetus is the constellation of the Whale. Cetology is the branch of zoology dealing with whales and dolphins. These are both English words derived from ketos. This word occurs only one time in the New Testament. The word is not “fish”, which is an entirely different Greek word – ixthus.

Jonah 1:17 refers to a “great fish” which the LORD had prepared to swallow the errant prophet Jonah. The whale, though by today’s man-made “scientific” classification is a mammal, has a fishlike body, and the word fish is defined in all dictionaries as including any aquatic animal with a fishlike body. This “scientific” classification was unknown in the days of Jonah and of Jesus, and is of no relevance to the way God classifies His creatures. Most people even today, when they see a whale, say: “Wow, that’s one big fish!” That is, until some pedantic type says: No, that’s a mammal.

God’s classification system differs from that of man’s. In 1 Corinthians 15:39 we read: “All flesh is not the same flesh; but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds.”

Perhaps in an attempt to appear scientific rather than correctly translating what the Greek word really means, the NKJV, and ESV have “the great fish”; the NIV has “the huge fish” while the NASB, and the NRSV have “the sea monster”!

Bible versions that have correctly translated this word as WHALE are Wycliffe 1395, Tyndale 1525, Coverdale 1535, the Great Bible 1540, Matthew’s Bible 1549, Bishops’ Bible 1568, the Geneva Bible 1599, Webster’s 1833 translation, Mace’s N.T. 1729, Whiston’s Primitive N.T. 1745, Worsley Version 1770,  the Revised Version 1885, the American Standard Version of 1901, the Spanish Reina Valera of 1602 and 1909 and the 2004 – “la ballena”, Reina Valera Gómez, the Portuguese de Almeida 1681 and the modern Bíblia Sagrada – “ três dias e três noites no ventre da baleia“, the Italian Diodati 1649, the French Martin 1744, Luther’s German Bible 1545, the Russian Synodal translation 1876, the Douay-Rheims, Lamsa’s 1933 translation of the Syriac Peshitta, Goodspeed 1923, the Revised Standard Version of 1952, the New American Bible of 1970, the Hebrew Names Version, the World English Bible, the 2004 Updated Bible version, the Catholic Public Domain Bible 2009, the KJV 21st Century and the Third Millenium Bible 1998.

What big fish would have swallowed up Jonah alive except a whale? Or was it the NASB’s SEA MONSTER? The Catholic New Jerusalem bible 1985 also reads “sea monster”, but the previous Douay-Rheims correctly read “whale”.

The ever revolving door of modern scholarship can’t seem to get its act together. The RSV, NRSV, and ESV are all revisions of each other, yet the RSV says “a whale”, the NRSV has “a sea monster” and the ESV reads “the great fish”.

The Greek word itself means “a whale”; it does not mean a fish nor much less a sea monster. The Lord Jesus Christ said Jonah was swallowed by a whale and the King James Bible is correct while the NKJV, NIV and NASB are in error.

Caterpillar or Grasshopper? 

 1 Kings 8:37 “If there be in the land famine, if there be pestilence, blasting, mildew, locust, or if there be CATERPILLAR…”

Caterpillar is # 2625 found 5 times and all translated as caterpillar in the KJB. Caterpillar is also the reading of the Jewish translations, the RV, ASV, NASB and others. However the NKJV again joins the NIV and says GRASSHOPPER here, but it translates the same word as caterpillar in Psalms 78:46 and Isaiah 33:4.


1 Kings 10:22 and 2 Chronicles 9:21 – Peacocks,  Monkeys or Baboons? 

1 Kings 10:22 and 2 Chronicles 9:21 both tell us of Solomon sending a navy of ships to bring gold, silver, ivory, apes and PEACOCKS. Peacocks is the reading of the Jewish translations 1917 Jewish Publication Society, 1936 Hebrew Publishing Company, The Judaica Press Tanach, Hebrew Names Version, Complete Jewish Bible 1998, Wycliffe 1395, Coverdale 1535, the Great Bible 1540 – “ apes and pecocks.”, Matthew’s Bible 1549, the Bishops’ Bible 1568, the Geneva Bible 1587, the Douay-Rheims 1610, the Lesser Bible 1853, Darby 1890, Youngs 1898, the Revised Version 1881, ASV 1901, Rotherham’s Emphasized bible 1902, Douay Version 1950, NASB 1995,  Rotherham’s Emphasized bible 1902, the Bible in Basic English 1960, the Living Bible 1961, the RSV, NRSV 1989, ESV 2001-2011, NET version, Amplified bible 1987, The Message 2002, Contemporary English Version 1995, Green’s interlinear, Lamsa’s translation of the Syriac 1936, Holman Standard 2003, International Standard Version, the Jewish Orthodox Bible 2011, Jubilee Bible 2000-2010, the Common English Bible 2011, and the Voice 2012.


Many Foreign Language Bibles translate this Hebrew word as “PEACOCKS”. These include the Spanish Reina Valera 1960, 1995 bibles “pavos reales”, the French Martin 1744, Louis Segond 1910, Ostervald 1996 “paons”, the Portuguese de Almeida 1681 and Bíblia Sagrada -“e pavões.”,  the Italian Diodati 1649 and 1991 – “e pavoni.”,Riveduta 1927 and the New Diodati 1991 “pavoni”,  the Luther’s German 1545 and the German Schlachter Bible of 2000 “Pfauen”, the Africaans bible 1953 – met goud en silwer, ivoor en ape en pour.“, the Hungarian Karoli Bible – “és pávákat.”,  the Russian Synodal translation 1876, the Swedish bible 1917 – ” apor och påfåglar.”, the Romanian Cornilescu Bible – “maimuţe şi păuni.”, the Tagalog Ang Dating Biblia 1905 – “at mga pano real”, the Albanian Bible – “dhe pallonj.”, the Chinese Union Traditional Bible –  孔 雀 回 來 , the Norwegian Det Norsk Bibleselskap 1930 – ” og påfugler.” and The Modern Greek translation “pagoni”.

However the NKJV says MONKEYS, while the NIV tells us these were BABOONS.  I wasn’t a Biology major in college, but I’m pretty sure there is a big difference between a peacock and a monkey!

By the way, the previous Catholic Douay-Rheims 1610 and Douay of 1950 both said “peacocks” but the Catholic St. Joseph NAB 1970 has “MONKEYS” while the Jerusalem bible 1968 and the New Jerusalem bible 1985 say “BABOONS.” Oh, but wait. They are not done yet.  Now the 2009 Catholic Public Domain Version has come out, and it goes back to (you got it) “PEACOCKS”!

 By the way, don’t try going to the so called Greek Septuagint for any help on this verse. Instead of having 1 Kings 10:22 consist of about 33 words and ending with “the navy of Tarshish, bringing GOLD, AND SILVER, IVORY, AND APES, AND PEACOCKS.” Benton’s copy of the alleged LXX says: “ship out of Tarshish laden with GOLD, AND SILVER, AND WROUGHT STONES, AND HEWN STONES.”  Then it adds some 170 to 180 more words in Greek that are not found in any Hebrew text or translation in any bible in any language for a total of some 210 words in just this one verse, making it the longest verse in this bible version.  Then it picks up the Hebrew narrative again in verse 23 with Solomon exceeding all the kings of the earth for riches and wisdom.  

But the Modern Greek Bible reads like the Hebrew text and the King James Bible with: “απαξ κατα τριετιαν ηρχετο ο στολος απο Θαρσεις, φερων χρυσον και αργυρον, οδοντας ελεφαντος και πιθηκους και παγωνια.” = “gold, silver, ivory teeth, apes (monkeys) and PEACOCKS.”



Scorpions or Scourges or Bloody Chains? 

1 Kings 12:11 and 14, as well as the parallel passage in 2 Chronicles 10:11, 14 Rehoboam tells the people: “My father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with SCORPIONS. Scorpions is the reading of the 1917 Jewish Publication Society Bible, the Revised Version,  the ASV, NASB, RSV, NRSV, ESV, Youngs, Douay, Darby and even the NIV. However the NKJV says in all 4 places: “I will chastise you with SCOURGES”, even though the NKJV correctly translates the same word as  ‘scorpions’ in Deuteronomy 8:15 and Ezekiel 2:6. Even the NKJV itself tells us in its own footnote of the 2 Chronicles 10:11 and 14 passages: “Literally  scorpions”.  The Message goes as far as to say: “I will beat you with BLOODY CHAINS” and the New Jerusalem bible 1985 says “a spiked lash” though the previous Catholic Douay-Rheims correctly had “scorpions”.

Conies or Rock Badgers? 

Proverbs 30:26 “The CONIES are but a feeble folk, yet make they their houses in the rocks.” A coney is a small rabbit like creature. Conies is the reading of Coverdale, Bishops’ Bible, the Geneva Bible, the Revised Version 1881, ASV of 1901, the NIV 1984 edition, Young’s, the Bible in Basic English 1960, Rotherham’s Emphasized Bible 1902, Lamsa’s 1936 translation of the Syriac, the Hebrew Names Bible, the Complete Jewish Bible, the 2003 Updated Bible version, the Amplified Version, the 1936 Jewish translation, the modern Complete Jewish Bible, Douay 1950, and the KJV 21st Century Version 1994.

However the NKJV says ROCK BADGERS along with the ESV. The 1977 NASB had “badgers” but in 1995 the NASB changed this to “the Shepharim” just to clear it up for us.  The NIV 2011 has once again changed its text and before it had “conies” but now has “hyraxes”

Proverbs 30:14 “There is a generation, whose teeth are as swords, and their JAW TEETH as knives.” Jaw teeth is in the NASB, ASV, RV and others. The NIV has “jaws” which is OK, but the NKJV says “whose FANGS are like knives.” Vampires perhaps?

Emerald or Turquoise? 

Exodus 28:18 “And the second row shall be an EMERALD, a sapphire, and a diamond.” Emerald is # 5306 and is used only 3 times in the O.T. Emerald is the reading of the RV, ASV, ESV, Young’s, Spanish, Geneva, 1936 Jewish bible, and even the RSV.

The NKJV, however says TURQUOISE here but translates the other two instances as “emerald” in Ezekiel 27:12 and 28:13.

In Genesis 24: 22, 47 Abraham’s servant was sent to get a bride for Isaac. There we read that the servant put an EARRING on Rebekah. “Earring” is found in Tyndale, Coverdale, Great Bible, Matthew’s Bible, the Bishops’ Bible the Geneva Bible, the Douay- Rheims and others.  But the NKJV tells us the servant put a NOSE RING on her, yet the NKJV translates this same word as earring 10 other times.

See a much more detailed study of this verse here: 

In 1 Samuel 16:12 young David is described as being “ruddy, and withal of a BEAUTIFUL COUNTENANCE, and goodly to look to.” This is the reading of the RV, ASV, Geneva bible, the Douay-Rheims,  Darby, Hebrew Names Version, the ESV 200 and others. Even the NIV says “of fine appearance”.  But the NKJV tells us that David had BRIGHT EYES. The New Jerusalem bible 1985 says “fine eyes”. Tell a woman she has bright eyes rather than a beautiful countenance and I think you will see the difference.

In Ecclesiastes 12:11 we read: “The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails fastened by THE MASTERS OF ASSEMBLIES, which are given by one shepherd.”

The masters of assemblies would be those in charge of leading the congregation in the study and hearing of God’s words, and He Himself is our one Shepherd. This is the reading of the RV, ASV, Geneva, Spanish and other versions. Even the NKJV footnote tells us that it is literally “masters of the assemblies”.

However, in typical NKJV fashion, they have rendered this verse as: “The words of the wise are as goads, and the WORDS OF SCHOLARS are like well driven nails, given by one Shepherd.”

The NKJV attempts to promote the wayward path of modern day Christians who look to the “scholars” to tell us what God really meant and said. I guess the Lord Jesus chose the wrong type of people in Peter, James, John and the rest of the twelve apostles to try to reach the world with the gospel of salvation through simple faith. He really should have chosen some scholars. Then we wouldn’t have all this confusion that we see today. Don’t ya think?

Though I could give many more examples of bad translations in the NKJV, I will close with one more. If you would like to compare other similar shortcomings of the NKJV, please see another article of mine here: The NKJV and Chronicles, Ezra and Nehemiah –

One of the Hebrew words the NKJV is constantly changing for no good reason is the word SEED. In Nehemiah 9:2 we read: “And the SEED of Israel separated themselves from all strangers…”

The Hebrew word is SEED # 2233, and is used for both the seed of plants and the seed of men. Here SEED is also the reading of Wycliffe, Coverdale, Bishops’ Bible, the Geneva Bible, the Jewish translations 1917, 1936, the RV, ASV, Young’s, and many others. Even the NKJV often correctly translates this word as “seed”, but not here and not in many other places as well.

Here, instead of the correct “the SEED of Israel”, the NKJV says “THE LINEAGE of Israel”, the NASB has “the descendants”, NIV and Holman “those of Israelite DESCENT”, and the RSV and 2003 ESV simply omit the word altogether – “the Israelites”.

Here is a PARTIAL list of some of the places where the NKJV unnecessarily changes the word “seed” to something else. In all these places the King James Bible correctly has the word “seed”. In Genesis 7:3 “to keep SEED alive upon the face of all the earth” becomes SPECIES; Genesis 9:9 “I establish my covenant with you, and with your SEED after you” becomes DESCENDANTS – NKJV footnote: Literally Seed; Genesis 15:13 OFFSPRING; Genesis 19:32 LINEAGE; In Genesis 38:8-9 the King James Bible correctly says “to raise up SEED to thy brother” but the NKJV incorrectly translates this as “to raise up AN HEIR to your brother”. The Hebrew word for “heir” is a totally different word than “seed”. In Leviticus 15:16 “SEED of copulation” becomes “EMISSION OF SEMEN” In Numbers 5:28 “and shall conceive SEED” becomes “shall conceive CHILDREN”. In 2 Kings 25:25 “the SEED royal” becomes “the royal FAMILY”, and in 2 Chron. 22:10 “she arose and destroyed all the SEED royal” becomes “she destroyed all the royal HEIRS.” In Esther 6:13 “the SEED of the Jews” becomes “the Jewish DESCENT”, and in Esther 10:3 “to all his SEED” becomes “to all his KINDRED”, with a footnote that the word is literally “seed”. The “SEED of the righteous” in Proverbs 11:21 becomes “THE POSTERITY of the righteous”, and in Isaiah 1:4 “a SEED of evildoers” becomes “a BROOD of evildoers” in the NKJV.

The Hebrew word zeh-rag (#2233) means “seed”. There are other Hebrew words for “heir, offspring, family, and kindred”, but it is not this particular Hebrew word. The NKJV frequently mistranslates the Hebrew text.

One of the results of the NKJV’s tendency to translate this Hebrew word incorrectly is a textual blunder that occurs by cross-referencing Galatians 3:16. There we read in all Bible versions: “Now to Abraham and his SEED were the promises made. He saith not, And to SEEDS, as of many; but as of one, And to thy SEED, which is Christ.”

Here the apostle under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost stresses the fact that God uses a singular word rather than a plural; and it refers in its ultimate sense to one Person, that is, to Christ.

In quoting Galatians 3:16 the NKJV then footnotes three verses found in the book of Genesis which allegedly serve as cross-references to this singular “seed”. They are Genesis 12:7; 13:15 and 24:7. In the King James Bible all three verses in Genesis have God telling Abraham “Unto thy SEED will I give this land.”

In all three verses “to thy SEED” is the reading found in the King James Bible, Wycliffe 1395, Coverdale 1535, the Bishops’ Bible 1568, the Geneva Bible 1599, the Revised Version 1881, the American Standard Version 1901, Webster’s 1833, Young’s, Darby, Douay, the Jewish translations of 1917, 1936, Green’s Modern KJV 1998, and the Third Millenium Bible.

However in all three reverenced verses in Genesis, the NKJV follows the liberal RSV (the first modern version to change the references to the promised “seed”) and in all three verses has God telling Abraham “to your DESCENDANTS will I give this land.” Obviously the word DESCENDANTS is plural, and not singular, and so the whole argument of Galatians 3:16 breaks down in the NKJV. The NASB and Daniel Wallace’s NET bible version also read as do the RSV and the NKJV with “to your descendants”. Wallace notes that the literal Hebrew word is SEED, but he goes ahead and mistranslates it as “descendantS” anyway.

The NIV, ESV and Holman Standard all read “to your OFFSPRING”, and the Message also misses the significance of the singular word SEED by saying “to your CHILDREN will I give the land.” The modern versions are getting worse, not better.

Since I wrote this little study another King James Bible believer wrote me and told me that he had compared the NKJV to the Jehovah Witness New World Translation and have found lots of similarities.  Here are just a few of the verses he compared.

Isiah 14:23 –  Bittern in KJV is Porcupine in both NKJV & NWT
Matthew 12:40 – Whale KJV; Great Fish NKJV; Huge Fish NWT
Proverbs 30:26 – Conies KJV; Rockbadger NKJV & NWT
Exodus 28:18 – Emerald KJV; Turquoise NKJV & NWT
Genesis 24:22,47 – Earring KJV; Nose Ring NKJV & NWT
1 Sam 16:12 – Beautiful Countenance KJV; Bright Eyes NKJV; Beautiful Eyes NWT


It should be obvious that the NKJV is not just “updating archaic words” in an effort to be more accurate, but is rather introducing thousands of unnecessary word changes just to be different.

I hope this little comparative study allows you to see that the NKJV has changed far more than just a few “archaic” words found in the King James Bible.