Inspiration or lack thereof of Qere/Kethiv readings and other Masoretic features

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Sam Jer

Puritan Board Freshman
From a confessional text viewpoint, are the Kethiv readings the inspired ones, or are the Qere readings also inspired? How would the later have come about?
Are the vowel points inspired? If they are, does that include the marks for verse division and chanting?

Is it ever legitimate to translate the Qere and not the Kethiv?
For example, Issiah 9:3.
Authorized Version:
Thou hast multiplied the nation, and not increased the joy: they joy before thee according to the joy in harvest, and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil.
You have multiplied the nation
And [a]increased its joy;
They rejoice before You
According to the joy of harvest,
As men rejoice when they divide the spoil. {Footnote reads: Isaiah 9:3 So with Qr., Tg.; Kt., Vg. not increased joy; LXX Most of the people You brought down in Your joy}
Masoretic Hebrew:
הִרְבִּיתָ הַגּוֹי, לא (לוֹ) הִגְדַּלְתָּ הַשִּׂמְחָה; שָׂמְחוּ לְפָנֶיךָ כְּשִׂמְחַת בַּקָּצִיר, כַּאֲשֶׁר יָגִילוּ בְּחַלְּקָם שָׁלָל
Translation, to be done well and faithfully, is demanding. You (or the scholar, working on a general translation for wide use) are aiming for the most accurate read and an understanding of what God wished to communicate at each place in the text.

Some of the vocalizations are possibly not what we should go with, sticking with the text. While others bring us back as readers to what the best minds of the church (even reaching back possibly into the OT age) think is what should be the true reading. It's a special case of "variants," even as the Heb. text is more "fixed" than the Greek, as far as the lettering goes. It's still an ancient text, and there are choices that sometimes must be made. We should be thankful to God for the extreme care for preservation that is reflected in the fact that scribes preferred to insert marginal verbalization than assume the right to correct the text they inherited.
At some point or other, everyone reads the qere. Otherwise, you are stuck in the Pentateuch when the consonants of the 3ms pronoun (hu') are used to refer to feminine subjects as well, and the qere puts in the vowels of the (later) standard 3fs pronoun (hiy). Unless you want to have gender neutral pronouns in your translation of the Pentateuch. Once you have accepted that, you are committed to the text critical task of evaluating kethib-qere readings. Translation is complicated.
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