Harmonizing Isaiah: Combining Ancient Sources (hereafter Harmonizing Isaiah) is a translation of four literary witnesses to the book of Isaiah: (1) the Great Isaiah Scroll, one of the Dead Sea Scrolls discovered in 1947 and one of the oldest complete Hebrew texts of Isaiah, which contains newly discovered variant readings that were unavailable to translators of Isaiah for approximately two millennia prior to the scroll's discovery; (2) the Masoretic Text (the traditional Hebrew text of the Old Testament);1 (3) the Isaiah passages in the Book of Mormon; and (4) the Joseph Smith Translation of Isaiah (JST). Harmonizing Isaiah, then, is a resource that brings together four significant versions of Isaiah into a single work. Three of the four—the scroll, the Masoretic Text, and the Book of Mormon Isaiah—were transmitted by copyists in antiquity; the other is a product of the restoration of the gospel, revealed through the Prophet Joseph Smith. Two (the scroll and the Masoretic Text) were transmitted in the Hebrew language, and the other two (the Book of Mormon and the JST) were revealed in the English language. All four exist today for our benefit and instruction. All are valuable because they serve to illuminate the book of Isaiah to interested readers of Isaiah.
Early English translators of the book of Isaiah, such as those who gave us the Wycliffe (ca. 1384), Tyndale (1530), Coverdale (1535), Matthew (1537), Bishop (1568), and King James (1611) versions, did not have access to or the benefit of the Isaiah Scroll, nor did they have access to or the benefit of the two literary witnesses of Isaiah that came forth through Joseph Smith.
A major goal of Harmonizing Isaiah is to provide a more refined understanding of Isaiah's prophecies concerning Jesus Christ's atonement and all things that pertain to him—his power to redeem, to resurrect, to bless lives, and to give us joy and happiness; his divine work among humanity throughout the ages; his mortal life and mission; his work in these last days; his second coming; and his millennial reign. A secondary goal of Harmonizing Isaiah is to stimulate deeper understanding of all of Isaiah's timeless teachings and prophecies, including the messages directed to his own generation as well as the prophecies pertaining to other generations.
The King James Version (KJV) remains the authoritative version of the Bible for English-speaking members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (non-English-speaking members, of course, do not use the KJV). Harmonizing Isaiah should not be considered authoritative, official, or even semiofficial in any way. It is merely a study aid and resource for students of Isaiah, no more and no less, and is not meant to replace or compete with the KJV book of Isaiah. I offer this translation as my work alone, not that of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or of Brigham Young University, where I am a faculty member. Any mistranslation, misrepresentation, or typographical error is my responsibility.
I began translating the Isaiah Scroll while in Jerusalem from January through April 2000. During these months my family and I accompanied seventeen students who were part of an intensive Hebrew language program at the BYU Jerusalem Center for Near Eastern Studies. Jerusalem certainly was an appropriate place to begin this translation, for it was the city of Isaiah's residence and the very locale where Isaiah received the revelations contained in his book. More than 2,700 years ago this great prophet married a woman known to us in the record only as the "prophetess," fathered and reared at least two sons, advised Judah's kings Ahaz and Hezekiah, and prophesied to peoples, kingdoms, and world powers—all from the city of Jerusalem. After our departure from Jerusalem, I continued the work of translation and completed it in Provo, Utah, during the fall season of 2000.
One of the important scripture treasures unearthed during the twentieth century, the Isaiah Scroll (also called "The Great Isaiah Scroll" or "St. Mark's Isaiah Scroll") is one of the initial seven Dead Sea Scrolls discovered in 1947. Almost two millennia ago it was wrapped in a linen cloth and deposited in a large clay jar that was then sealed and placed in what is now called Qumran Cave 1, one of the eleven caves that yielded scrolls near the northwest shore of the Dead Sea. Due to its beauty and completeness, the Isaiah Scroll is perhaps the most famous of the biblical scrolls found at Qumran. The scroll contains all sixty-six chapters of the book of Isaiah, presented in fifty-four columns of text. It consists of seventeen pieces of animal skin that were sewn together to form a single scroll measuring twenty-four and one-half feet in length and ten and one-half inches in height. The scroll shows signs of having been well-worn before its deposit in the jar, and a leather backing was glued to the first few feet of the scroll to reinforce it.
The scroll is written in Hebrew, the language spoken by Isaiah and other prophets of the Old Testament. Similar to other biblical and nonbiblical scrolls during this period, the Isaiah Scroll lacks punctuation and chapter and verse numbers, all of which were later developments. The scroll has a paragraphing system that delineates units of thought or thematic units. It also contains numerous scribal markings on passages that apparently were important to the Qumran community or to a particular person who was studying the writings of Isaiah.
Using paleographic analysis (paleography is the study of ancient writing) of the Hebrew script, scholars date the Isaiah scroll to between 150 and 100 B.C. Radiocarbon dating of the scroll's leather more or less corresponds with those dates. The scroll predates the Masoretic Text by one thousand years, a significant factor for biblical scholars who seek to discover the oldest extant readings of a particular scriptural book. Early sources often present primary or original readings that were lost through time as copyists transmitted biblical texts by longhand from generation to generation. Remarkably, the text of the Isaiah Scroll dates to within six hundred years of the prophet himself, while the Masoretic Text, in its present form, dates to the ninth or tenth centuries A.D. The Isaiah Scroll is presently housed in the Shrine of the Book, part of the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.
The scribe who copied the writings of Isaiah from a prior copy onto the Isaiah Scroll was sometimes careless in his work, erring in a number of places. He often corrected his own errors by writing the corrections between the lines or in the margins. According to Dead Sea Scrolls scholar William H. Brownlee, "The Complete Isaiah Scroll from Qumran is by no means a flawless manuscript."2 Scribal errors found in the scroll have not been translated or otherwise represented in the present translation.
Notwithstanding its scribal errors, scholars generally agree that the Isaiah Scroll preserves readings that are superior to the Masoretic Text, so the scroll is extremely important to the study of the Bible. Many of the scroll's readings shed light on the text of Isaiah and serve to clarify hard-to-understand passages in the Masoretic Text. In a chapter titled "Superior Readings in the Isaiah Scroll," Brownlee writes:
It would indeed be most amazing if a scroll so ancient should preserve no superior readings. Conversely, readings which appear superior according to well-established principles of textual criticism, instead of being judged worthless because of the inferior quality of the scroll in which they are found, should rather be treasured because of the antiquity of the document. . . . Each reading must stand or fall on its own merit.3
Brownlee furnishes a number of readings from the Isaiah Scroll that he considers to be superior to those of the Masoretic Text.4
Many Bible translation committees have used biblical books from the Dead Sea Scrolls, including the Isaiah Scroll, in preparing their translations. According to Harold Scanlin, a translation adviser for the United Bible Societies, "Every major Bible translation published since 1950 has claimed to have taken into account the textual evidence of the Dead Sea Scrolls."5 With regard to the Isaiah Scroll, Scanlin writes, "The impact of the scrolls of Isaiah on Bible translation has received more attention by far than any of the other biblical books."6
In 1984 David J. Clark, then a United Bible Society translations consultant, authored an article that examines the influence of the Isaiah Scroll on eight modern Bible translations. Clark's introduction includes these words: "Since the discovery of the [Dead Sea Scrolls] in 1947 and the following years, several important translations of the [Old Testament] have appeared in English and other major European languages, and of course the scholars involved have had to make practical decisions about whether or not to accept readings found in the [Dead Sea Scrolls] as the basis for their translation."7 All eight translations to a greater or lesser degree accept readings from the Great Isaiah Scroll. The eight translations (with year of publication and confessional background in parentheses)8 are the Revised Standard Version (1952, American liberal protestant), New English Bible (1970, British liberal protestant), Traduction œcuménique de la Bible (1975, French interconfessional), New International Version (1975, International [but mainly North American] conservative protestant), Bible de Jérusalem (1978, French Roman Catholic), A New Translation of the Holy Scriptures according to the traditional Hebrew Text (1978, American Jewish), Die Gute Nachricht: Die Bible in heutigem Deutsch (1982, German interconfessional), and La Bible en français courant (1982, French interconfessional).
A guiding principle that stands behind this translation stems from a teaching of the Prophet Joseph Smith: "One of the grand fundamental principles of 'Mormonism' is to receive truth, let it come from whence it may."9 Truth has emerged in the form of a very old scroll containing readings that shed light on the teachings and prophecies of Isaiah. A translation of Isaiah is important to students of Isaiah for several reasons.
The Isaiah Scroll Provides Variant Readings
Pre-1947 Bible translators did not benefit from the variant readings provided by the Great Isaiah Scroll. Although most of the text of the Isaiah Scroll is identical to the Masoretic Text of Isaiah, from whence comes the King James Version book of Isaiah, the scroll offers important variant readings that add to our understanding of Isaiah. These variant readings belong to one of three categories:10
Readings That Shorten the Text
The Masoretic Text and the Isaiah Scroll both preserve words or phrases that are not found in the other, suggesting that there may have been scribal error as the text was transmitted through the centuries. For example, at Isaiah 1:15 the Masoretic version omits the words "your fingers with iniquity," suggesting that in this case, the reading of the Isaiah Scroll may be original because it contains an expression that completes a synonymous parallelism (on synonymous parallelism, see page 19): "Your hands are full of blood, your fingers with iniquity."Readings That Expand the Text
At times scribes or copyists added words or phrases to scriptural texts to explain obscure words or clarify difficult readings. Despite such good intentions, these persons had no authority to add words to Isaiah's text. On other occasions the copyists inadvertently added words to the text as they copied the text.Readings That Do Not Change the Length of the Text
The two Hebrew versions of Isaiah under discussion, the Isaiah Scroll and the Masoretic Text, sometimes present different forms of the same word, plural versus singular nouns and verbs, different spellings of the same word, different verbal tenses of the same verbal root, and different (although synonymous) forms of prepositions, and so on. To illustrate, at Isaiah 33:8 the scroll reads cadîm ("witnesses") and the Masoretic Text reads carîm ("cities"). This variant reading does not affect the length of the text, but it changes the translation and consequently the meaning of the verse. The scroll probably preserves the original or primary reading.
On the other hand, a second example indicates that the Isaiah Scroll has an incorrect reading. For some reason the scribe misspelled Isaiah's name in the opening verse of the book (see Isaiah 1:1). He later caught the error and wrote the missing Hebrew character on the scroll directly above Isaiah's name.
Because scribal errors appear in both versions of Isaiah, it is the task of textual critics and translators to discern the primary readings.
The Dead Sea Scrolls Provide Greater Understanding of the Hebrew Language
Since 1947, the discovery of literally hundreds of Hebrew sectarian and biblical texts has heightened our knowledge of Hebrew words, prompting a surge in publications on Hebrew orthography, morphology, phonology, linguistics, syntax, and related topics. Three outstanding studies on the contribution of the scrolls to the Hebrew language are Elisha Qimron, The Hebrew of the Dead Sea Scrolls (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1986); M. H. Goshen-Gottstein, "Linguistic Structure and Tradition in the Qumran Documents," Scripta Hierosolymitana IV (Jerusalem, Magnes, Hebrew University, 1958), 101–37; and E. Y. Kutscher, The Language and Linguistic Background of the Isaiah Scroll (1QIsaa) (Leiden: Brill, 1974).
"As Far As It Is Translated Correctly"
Joseph Smith made many statements regarding the transmission and translation of the Bible. One such statement presents a fundamental belief of the Church of Jesus Christ, as it is set forth in an article of faith: "We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly" (eighth article of faith). Those words accord with other teachings of the Prophet. For example, on 8 April 1843 he made this observation: "I am now going to take exceptions to the present translation of the Bible in relation to these matters. Our latitude and longitude can be determined in the original Hebrew with far greater accuracy than in the English version. There is a grand distinction between the actual meaning of the prophets and the present translation."11 Later that same year, on 15 October 1843, he taught, "I believe the Bible as it read when it came from the pen of the original writers. Ignorant translators, careless transcribers, or designing and corrupt priests have committed many errors."12
An incident from the history of the Church of Jesus Christ indicates that there may be more than one way to render the text. On 21 September 1823, the angel Moroni appeared to Joseph Smith in a "divine manifestation" (Joseph Smith—History 1:29). In the course of instructing him, Moroni "quoted . . . the fourth or last chapter of [Malachi], though with a little variation from the way it reads in our Bibles" (Joseph Smith—History 1:36).
Translators may mistranslate ancient biblical texts for several reasons. First, ancient texts, such as the book of Isaiah, contain very rare words whose meanings are difficult to comprehend. Some words appear only once (called hapax legomena) in the entire Hebrew Bible. The writings of Isaiah contain many such words that are, by their nature, difficult to translate.
Second, several Hebrew terms cannot be translated precisely into another language. Either the meaning of a particular Hebrew term is unknown or, in many instances, English words can only approximate the intended meanings of the original language. The divine name Yahweh is a case in point. It may be translated "he shall cause to be," "he shall be," "he shall create," "he shall procreate,"13 or the name may be translated in other ways. Most translators avoid a translation for this divine name altogether and choose to use the title LORD wherever the word Yahweh appears in the text.
Third, all translators (other than prophets acting under the power of the Holy Ghost) are subject to the limitations of human judgment and thus are prone to make errors.
Fourth, translators who lived before the restoration of the gospel believed doctrines and teachings that biased their translations. Likewise, translators since that time tend to be biased in similar ways. Like their earlier counterparts, they may embrace teachings that are not compatible with the doctrines of the gospel as revealed through Joseph Smith and other prophets of the latter days. Such false teachings include predestination, creation ex nihilo (creation out of nothing), the Trinity as three in one, an immaterial God who cannot be seen by humans on earth, and a denial of living prophets of God, modern temple worship, the gifts of the Spirit, angels, and so on.
Early English Translations of the Bible Contain Archaic Language
Early English Bible translations, such as those of Wycliffe, Tyndale, Coverdale, Matthew, Bishop, and the King James Version, contain archaic idioms and obsolete phrases.14 Such language may represent accurate translations of the Hebrew, but inasmuch as it is out-of-date, it frequently obscures the meaning of the text. Archaisms from the King James Version of the book of Isaiah appear as various verb forms (art, wilt, shalt, hath, doth, hast, wast, astonied, beget, beseech, bestead, bewail, bewray, clave, contemned, extolled, overpast, plaister, reckoned, shew, trodden, wrought), verbs with -st endings (didst, sayest, dwellest, shouldest, camest, bringest, abhorrest, comfortedst), verbs with -th endings (stirreth, heweth, graveth, scattereth, mourneth, fadeth, languisheth, endeth, fleeth, cometh, swimmeth, spreadeth, keepeth, layeth, crieth, heweth, kindleth, saith, standeth, hindereth, abhorreth), transliterations of Hebrew terms (homer, ephah, cherubims), personal pronouns (thou, thee, thy, ye, thine, thyself), nouns (besom, bullocks, cauls, divorcement, enchantments, eveningtide, exactors, feller, firebrands, flagons, gin, hireling, lees, mirth, mufflers, rereward, silverlings, soothsayers, stomacher, tabret, tow, traffickers, wimples), exclamations (ho, lo), prepositions (betwixt), adjectives (doleful, hoar, stouthearted, sucking [child], wroth), and adverbs (frowardly, hither, thence, thither, whence, whereto, wherewith). A list of archaic words from Isaiah is located in appendix 1.
At times archaic expressions are grouped together within a few verses, as is Isaiah 3:18–23, where women's clothing and ornaments are listed:
In that day the Lord will take away the bravery of their tinkling ornaments about their feet, and their cauls, and their round tires like the moon, the chains, and the bracelets, and the mufflers, the bonnets, and the ornaments of the legs, and the headbands, and the tablets, and the earrings, the rings and nose jewels, the changeable suits of apparel, and the mantles, and the wimples, and the crisping pins, the glasses, and the fine linen, and the hoods, and the vails.
The following paired phrases from Isaiah include archaic terms that have changed meaning since 1611. The first phrase in each pair is from the King James Version; the italicized phrases are from Harmonizing Isaiah.
"hardly bestead and hungry" (8:21)
"distressed and hungry" (8:21)
"dimness of anguish" (8:22)
"the gloom of anguish" (8:22)
"for by the mounting up of Luhith with weeping shall they go it up" (15:5)
"they are at the slope of Luhith, weeping as they go" (15:5)
"bewray not him that wandereth" (16:3)
"do not betray the fugitives" (16:3)
"for the extortioner is at an end, the spoiler ceaseth" (16:4)
"when the oppressor exists no more, destruction ceases" (16:4)
"they prevented with their bread him that fled" (21:14)
"bring bread to the fugitives" (21:14)
"he discovered the covering of Judah" (22:8)
"he revealed the defense of Judah" (22:8)
"bunches of camels" (30:6)
"humps of camels" (30:6)
"ear the ground" (30:24)
"work the soil" (30:24)
"young men shall be discomfited" (31:8)
"young men will become forced laborers" (31:8)
Many archaic expressions puzzle the modern reader because their contemporary meanings are different from what they were four hundred years ago. For example, during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries the term carriage (10:28) referred to "something that is carried," such as gear or supplies, but now carriage refers to "a wheeled vehicle"; corn (e.g., 17:5; 21:10) was "grain" during those centuries but now refers to "maize"; cunning (3:3; 40:20) meant "skillful" but now means "sly"; durable clothing (23:18) referred to "splendid clothing" but now means "clothing that lasts a long time"; meat (62:8) was a generic term for "food," but now it refers to "the flesh of animals"; a mean man (2:9) meant a "common man," but now it denotes "a cruel man." Other archaisms that have changed meaning include the terms prevent (21:14), let (43:13), and debate (58:4).
Because spelling, too, has changed over the centuries, several words in Isaiah are spelled differently now than they were in 1611. Examples include astonied, shewed, counsellors, and clifts. These are presently spelled as astonished, showed, counselors, and clefts.
The present translation does not use archaic and obsolete expressions; and the personal pronouns thou, thee, thy, ye, thine, thyself that appear in the phrases of the Joseph Smith Translation and Book of Mormon cited in the translation have been updated.
Similarly, the rules regarding punctuation marks—commas, periods, colons, semi-colons, question marks, and exclamation marks—have changed over the centuries. Modern punctuation styles are reflected in the present translation, including in the phrases of the Joseph Smith Translation and Book of Mormon that are cited in the translation. Further, on occasion, punctuation marks were misplaced in earlier translations of the Bible. This occurred in Isaiah 9:6, where the Hebrew text shows that the titles of the Messiah should be punctuated to indicate four, not five, titles; the comma located between Wonderful and Counsellor should be omitted so that the text reads "Wonderful Counselor."
The King James Version of Isaiah mentions mythical creatures, such as the unicorn (34:7), satyr (13:21; 34:14), cockatrice (11:8; 14:29; 59:5), and dragon (13:22; 34:13; 35:7; 43:20). Such creatures, of course, do not exist. One biblical scholar explains that the translators of the KJV "probably thought the creatures existed."15 The translators did encounter trouble in Deuteronomy 33:17 (KJV reads, "and his horns are like the horns of unicorns") where the text has the plural horns, and yet a unicorn has only one horn; but the translators solved the problem by inserting the plural unicorns. The text should read, "and his horns are like the horns of the wild ox."
Occasionally, the Masoretic Text Was Voweled Incorrectly
Early Hebrew manuscripts, including biblical manuscripts, lacked vowels. For example, not one of the approximately eight hundred Dead Sea Scrolls manuscripts contains vowels. Only the Hebrew consonants exist in the scrolls. The Masoretes, a group of Jews who transmitted the text of the Hebrew Bible in Palestine during the eighth and ninth centuries A.D., added vowels to the text of the Hebrew Bible. The Masoretes held certain theological biases that are occasionally reflected in their work of adding vowels to the consonants. At times, perhaps rarely, they apparently did not attach the proper vowels to the consonants, resulting in what appears to be a mistranslation. An instance of this is in Isaiah 1:12, where one word was incorrectly voweled to be read "when ye come to appear before me" rather than "when you come to see my face."16
Parallelisms in Isaiah
Poetic parallelisms are regularly attested forms of poetry in the Old Testament. According to Bible scholar Wilfred G. E. Watson, "Parallelism is universally recognized as the characteristic feature of biblical Hebrew poetry."17 In his book The Idea of Biblical Poetry, James L. Kugel points out that poetic parallelism is "the basic feature of biblical songs—and, for that matter, of most of the sayings, proverbs, laws, laments, blessings, curses, prayers, and speeches found in the [Hebrew] Bible."18 As stated in Understanding Isaiah, it is evident that Isaiah, too, "consistently wrote in a form called poetic parallelism,"19 as evidenced by more than eleven hundred examples of parallelism in Isaiah's writings.
What are poetic parallelisms? "In poetic parallelism, the prophet makes a statement in a line, a phrase, or a sentence and then restates it, so that the second line, phrase, or sentence echoes or mirrors the first."20 Both lines in a parallelism are equally important. The second line, writes Kugel, was "not expected to be (nor regarded as) mere restatement" of the first half, but was meant to "add to it, often particularizing, defining, or expanding the meaning, and yet also to hearken back" to it.21 Understanding this form of poetry makes Isaiah's message more understandable and meaningful.
This volume presents the text in a format that makes the parallelism apparent to the reader.22 The text is formatted with two (or sometimes three or four) parallel lines of text followed by a space, then two more parallel lines of text, and so forth. The intent of this format is to make it easier for the reader to locate, identify, and appreciate the numerous parallelisms in Isaiah's writings. Although in this volume I attempted to represent all of the two-line parallelisms in Isaiah's writings, undoubtedly I did not locate all of them. Some of them are quite subtle.
Isaiah, a master poet, presented the parallelisms in a variety of configurations, such as the following:
1. Synonymous or near-synonymous terms or phrases. A synonymous parallelism features synonyms or approximate synonyms in the two lines. In the following parallelism the verbs increased and magnified are synonymous, as are the nouns rejoicing and joy, and each of the two lines begins with the words you have.
You have increased the rejoicing,
you have magnified the joy. (9:3)
Isaiah's writings contain hundreds of synonymous parallelisms. Consider the following three examples:
The ox knows its purchaser,
and the ass its owner's feeding trough. (1:3)
Also I will make a way in the wilderness;
paths in the desert. (43:19)
I have not burdened you with offerings;
nor wearied you with frankincense. (43:23)
Occasionally three or four (rather than the usual two) parallel lines contain synonymous words or phrases:
relieve the oppressed,
defend the orphan,
plead for the widow. (1:17)
2. Identical words or phrases. Several parallelisms present words or phrases in line one then repeat the exact words or phrases in line two. In the following example, the words you have increased the nation are located in each of the two lines:
You have increased the nation, O LORD,
you have increased the nation, you are glorified. (26:15)
In the above example, the identical expressions are located at the beginning of the lines. In Isaiah 8:12, the repeated words say, A conspiracy are found at the end of the lines:
Do not say, A conspiracy,
to all to whom this people will say, A conspiracy. (8:12)
Isaiah 8:9b attests a parallelism where line two has the exact wording of line one:
gird yourselves, but you will be broken;
gird yourselves, but you will be broken. (8:9)
3. Antithetical parallelism or opposites. Antithetical parallelism is when line two presents terms or ideas that contrast with those in line one. In this structured device, the disjunction but commonly introduces the second line. In the following example, the expression willing and obedient of line one is opposite of refuse and rebel in line two, and the blessing you will eat the good of the land contrasts with the curse you will be consumed by the sword; both lines read if you at or near the beginning of the line:
If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good of the land;
but if you refuse and rebel, you will be consumed by the sword. (1:19–20)
Two antithetical expressions are found in the following parallelism, each introduced with but:
The bricks have fallen down, but we will build with hewn stones;
the sycamores have been cut down, but we will replace them with cedars. (9:10)
Isaiah 65:14 contrasts sing with cry out and gladness of heart with pain of heart in the following verse:
Behold, my servants will sing with gladness of heart,
but you will cry out for pain of heart (65:14).
4. Complements. A complement is something that makes another thing complete. For example, bow and arrow are complements because a bow is not complete without an arrow, and vice versa. In the following parallelism, the word arrows is paired with its complement, bows.
Whose arrows will be sharp,
and all their bows bent. (5:28)
5. Metaphors. A metaphor is a word or expression that represents something other than its literal meaning. Numerous parallelisms match metaphors in the two lines. Isaiah 5:7a repeats the metaphors vineyard and delightful plant representing, respectively, the house of Israel and the men of Judah:
For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel,
and the men of Judah his delightful plant. (5:7)
In Isaiah 2:3b the metaphor mountain parallels house, having reference to the temple. The divine title LORD of line one corresponds with the name God of Jacob in line two.
to the mountain of the LORD,
to the house of the God of Jacob. (2:3)
The following parallelism has three corresponding expressions between the two lines. The imperative clothe yourself begins both phrases, strength and garments correspond, and O Zion is a synonymous counterpart with O Jerusalem:
Awake, awake! Clothe yourself with strength, O Zion;
clothe yourself with your beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city. (52:1)
6. Double similes. A simile is a figure of speech that uses like or as to compare two different things in a symbolic manner. Isaiah occasionally used similes in parallelism, as the following double simile illustrates:
we would be like Sodom,
we would be as Gomorrah. (1:9)
7. Resultative relationship. From time to time a parallelism presents a resultative relationship between the two lines. For example, Isaiah 7:14 states that the virgin would conceive and then bear a son. Line one prophesies of a conception, and line two prophesies of the results of that conception—the birth of a son.
Behold, the virgin will conceive,
and bear a son, and call his name Immanuel. (7:14)
Another example of a resultative relationship is in Isaiah 55:10. Line one speaks of seed that is sown; line two communicates that bread has become the product of the sown seed.
and giving seed to the sower,
and bread to the one who eats. (55:10)
8. Gender-matched parallelism. Isaiah presents a number of parallelisms in which both genders are paired. In the first example below, the term sons is paired with daughters and the words their bosom parallels their shoulders. In the second example the name Abraham is paired with Sarah and the words your father parallels she that bare you:
and they will bring your sons in their bosom,
and your daughters will be carried upon their shoulders. (49:22)
Look to Abraham your father,
and to Sarah, she that bare you. (51:2)
In Hebrew all nouns are either feminine or masculine, a biblical distinction lost in the English translation. Note that the nouns dust and chaff in Hebrew are masculine, and the nouns sword and bow are feminine. These words are presented in a particular pattern in the following poetic parallelism, with each line featuring a masculine noun followed by a feminine noun:
who makes them like dust [masculine] with his sword [feminine],
like driven stubble [masculine] with his bow [feminine]? (41:2)
In addition to the gender parallels in the example just cited, there are parallels between things blown in the wind (dust and chaff) and weapons (sword and bow).
Isaiah 43:16 employs a similar pattern, with the feminine noun appearing first in each line:
Thus says the LORD, who makes a way [feminine], in the sea [masculine],
and a path [feminine] in the mighty waters [masculine]. (43:16)
9. Progression. A number of parallelisms in Isaiah's writings show progression of the sense from line one to line two. An example from Isaiah 3:13, a verse that presents a courtroom scene, serves to demonstrate this progression. Note the progression—the Lord first pleads the cause of the people; afterward he judges them:
The LORD takes his place to plead a cause,
and stands to judge the people. (3:13)
10. Rhetorical questions. Rhetorical questions appear throughout the scriptures to instruct and enlighten the reader. Isaiah, too, employs rhetorical questions in a number of parallelisms. Isaiah 40:28a reads:
Have you not known?
Have you not heard? (40:28)
Isaiah 66:8 presents two parallelisms that feature rhetorical questions. Each line of the first parallelism begins with the interrogative particle who to introduce the rhetorical questions. Also, the term heard of line one parallels seen of line two, and such a thing of line one parallels such things of line two.
Who has heard such a thing?
Who has seen such things? (66:8)
A third rhetorical question comprises the second parallelism of this verse:
Is a country born in one day,
a nation brought forth in one moment? (66:8)
Note the parallels between country and nation, born and brought forth, one day and one moment.
11. Numbers. In poetic parallelisms, numbers correspond when the same number is repeated within the passage (fifty/ fifty, thousand/thousand, and so on) or when the a fortiori, "how much more so" principle is in effect. A fortiori deals with "the peculiar sequence of two numbers, the second number being one unit higher than the first number (x/x+1)."23 An example occurs in Isaiah 17:6b, where the first line reads "two or three" and the second line, following the a fortiori principle, reads "four or five":
two or three berries on the topmost bough,
four or five in the branches of a fruitful tree. (17:6)
12. Lists. On occasion Isaiah presents lists of items in multiple parallelisms. The following two parallelisms list four body parts—eyes, ears, heart, and tongues:
And the eyes of seers will not be closed,
and the ears of those who hear will listen, (32:3)
and the heart of the rash will understand and know,
and tongues of those who stammer will speak promptly and distinctly. (32:4)
Isaiah 11:6–8 lists twelve animals in four parallelisms—wolf, lamb, leopard, kid, calf, young lion, cow, bear, lion, ox, cobra, and viper:
And then will the wolf dwell with the lamb,
and the leopard will lie down with the kid;
and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together;
and a little child will lead them. (11:6)
And the cow and the bear will feed;
their young ones will lie down together;
and the lion will eat straw like the ox. (11:7)
And the nursing babe will play on the hole of the cobra,
and the toddler will put his hand in the viper's den. (11:8)
13. Grammatical parallelisms. The prophet Isaiah arranges a number of parallelisms into a particular grammatical word order; certain grammatical aspects of line one correspond with those of line two. For example, each of the two lines in Isaiah 1:10 features the same corresponding grammatical aspects: imperative, object, and subject. Both lines begin with an imperative (hear, listen to), followed by the object (the word of the Lord, the law of our God), and then the subject (rulers of Sodom, people of Gomorrah):
Hear the word of the Lord, rulers of Sodom;
listen to the law of our God, people of Gomorrah. (1:10)
In Isaiah 1:3 each line features the subject, negative particle, and verb:
Israel does not know,
my people do not understand. (1:3)
14. Opening a prophecy. Isaiah occasionally opens his prophecies with a parallelism (see, for example, Isaiah 13:1; 15:1; 17:1; 21:1, 11; 22:15). The second verse of the book of Isaiah opens a prophecy with a synonymous parallelism:
Hear, O heavens,
and listen, O earth. (1:2)
15. Domain and subcategory. A number of parallelisms feature a domain subcategory relationship. For instance, the cedar tree is a type of tree as well as one subcategory in the domain of trees. The following three parallelisms indicate this domain subcategory relationship: wine is a subcategory of strong drink (domain); cedar is a subcategory of trees (domain), and lion is a subcategory of beast (domain):
Woe unto the mighty to drink wine,
and men of strength to mingle strong drink. (5:22)
and he lets it grow strong among the trees of the forest.
He plants a cedar and the rain makes it grow. (44:14)
The lion will not be there,
nor any ravenous beast. (35:9)
16. Declaration followed by an explanation. Many parallelisms present a declaration in line one followed by an explanation in line two. For example, Isaiah 3:9 presents a declaration, "Woe unto their soul!" followed by the reason for the declaration:
Woe unto their souls!
for they have rewarded evil unto themselves. (3:9)
Chiasmus and Inverted Parallelism in Isaiah
Chiasmus is an inverted parallelism, a presentation of a series of words or thoughts followed by a second presentation of a series of words or thoughts, but in reverse order. John W. Welch's definition of chiasmus is instructive: "the appearance of a two-part structure or system in which the second half is a mirror image of the first, i.e., where the first term recurs last, and the last first."24 A list of chiastic structures found in the book of Isaiah, including key words and scriptural references, is found in appendix 2.
An example of a simple chiasmus having an ABB'A' structure is in Isaiah 5:20. In this verse the terms evil and good are presented once and then again in reverse order:
A Woe unto them that call evil
B and good
A evil; (5:20)
In addition to the chiasmus just presented, Isaiah 5:20 has two more examples, each featuring the ABB'A' pattern. One presents the terms darkness, light, light, darkness in chiastic order; the second has bitter, sweet, sweet, bitter:
A that put darkness
B for light,
B and light
A for darkness;
A that put bitter
B for sweet,
B and sweet
A for bitter! (5:20)
A longer chiasmus, featuring an ABCC'B'A' pattern, occurs in Isaiah 6:10. The body parts heart, ears, and eyes are each listed once, and then again in reverse order:
A Make fat the heart of this people,
B and make heavy their ears,
C and shut their eyes;
C lest they see with their eyes,
B and hear with their ears,
A and understand with their hearts,
and return, and be healed. (6:10)
Another ABCC'B'A' chiastic pattern is found in Isaiah 55:8–9, wherein the Lord teaches that his thoughts and ways are higher than those of humans. The chief pattern sets forth the terms thoughts, ways, heavens, earth, ways, and thoughts. Note the inner chiastic pattern in the two lines marked with "B"—your ways/my ways/ /my ways/your ways:
A For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
B nor are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.
C For as the heavens are higher
C than the earth,
B so my ways are higher than your ways,
A and my thoughts than your thoughts. (55:8–9)
Isaiah 60:1–3 comprises a chiasmus that features the pattern ABCDEFGG'F'E'D'C'B'A'. The parallel lines A through F on both sides of the structure pertain to the Lord's glorious light, as the following terms indicate: arise, shine, light, glory, and brightness. The two lines marked "G," the pivotal point of the structure, feature the concept of darkness. Darkness, then, counterpoints light in this structure:
C for your light has come,
D and the glory
E of the LORD
F has risen upon you.
G For behold, the
darkness will cover the earth,
G and thick darkness the people,
F but shall arise upon you,
E the LORD
D and his glory appears on you,
C And nations will come to your light,
B and kings to the brightness
A of your rising. (60:1–3)
I appealed to the following primary and secondary sources for Harmonizing Isaiah:
1. The Great Isaiah Scroll 1QIsaa: A New Edition. In 1998 I, with Elisha Qimron, a professor of Hebrew from Ben Gurion University (in Beer Sheba, Israel), prepared a new edition of the Isaiah Scroll that was published by E. J. Brill, an academic publisher located in Leiden, the Netherlands. The new edition consists of Hebrew transcriptions, photographs of the Isaiah Scroll, and a bibliography. In the book we describe our methodology:
The transcriptions were created from the leather scroll itself . . . and from three different sets of photographs. The transcriptions were then checked against enhanced computer images of the John C. Trever negatives, which were scanned into digitized format at 400 dpi on an Agfa Arcus II scanner. The computer images were manipulated and enhanced by use of commercial imaging software, . . . to illuminate difficult-to-read characters. A histogram, created for darkened areas of the scroll, provided a measurement of 256 shades of gray (pixels), which shades were then diminished or enhanced to provide the best reading of the characters. To determine the correct reading several characters were enlarged, zoomed at approximately 300 percent their actual size. Little pixelization occurred.25
2. Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia. This publication is a widely used scholarly edition of the Masoretic Text. The volume features a critical apparatus—a series of notes at the bottom of each page—that contains variant readings from other Hebrew manuscripts and ancient versions of Isaiah.
3. The Book of Isaiah in the Hebrew University Bible Project's Edition of the Bible.26 This Hebrew work was published in 1995 and contains four sections: the versions, the Dead Sea Scrolls, medieval Bible manuscripts, and spelling, vowels, and accents. The first two sections are of extreme importance to translators. The volume's critical apparatus is much more complete than the apparatus that is part of Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia.
4. Isaiah Passages in the Book of Mormon. The present volume incorporates significant variant readings from Book of Mormon Isaiah passages that offer clarifications as well as doctrinal and historical insights. For many years Latter-day Saint scholars have recognized the great value of the variant readings in the Isaiah passages in the Book of Mormon.27 Only major Book of Mormon Isaiah readings that are at variance with the KJV play a role in this translation.
I drew on Royal Skousen's facsimiles—The Original Manuscript of the Book of Mormon: Typographical Facsimile of the Extant Text and The Printer's Manuscript of the Book of Mormon: Typographical Facsimile of the Entire Text in Two Parts, both published by FARMS in 2001—together with the 1830 and 1981 editions of the Book of Mormon in Harmonizing Isaiah. These four works provide the most accurate readings of the Isaiah texts that are cited in the Book of Mormon.
5. The Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible.28 Latter-day Saint scholars value the Prophet Joseph Smith's Translation of the Bible for its variant readings.29 It is interesting to note that on occasion the Joseph Smith Translation clarifies the Isaiah passages in the Book of Mormon. For instance, a phrase in Isaiah 52:15 that is cited in 3 Nephi 20:45—"So shall he sprinkle many nations"—reads the same as the King James Version. However, the Joseph Smith Translation reads, "So shall he gather many nations." In this case, Harmonizing Isaiah uses the reading of the Joseph Smith Translation because the term gather seems to fit the context and meaning of the passage.
Harmonizing Isaiah uses the transcriptions of the JST that are in Joseph Smith's New Translation of the Bible Original Manuscripts.30 These transcriptions are accurately represented and well-documented.
The major variant readings from the Great Isaiah Scroll, the Joseph Smith Translation, and the Book of Mormon appear in brackets in the notes.
The following three lexical aids proved to be vital in the preparation of this volume. All three are standard works in the field of biblical studies:
Brown, Francis, Stephen R. Driver, and Charles A. Briggs. A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament. Oxford: Clarendon, 1977.
Koehler, Ludwig, and Walter Baumgartner. The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament. 4 vols. Leiden: Brill, 1994–1999.
Botterweck, G. Johannes, Helmer Ringgren, and Heinz-Josef Fabry, eds. Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament. 11 vols. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1974–2001.
Several secondary sources, identified in the bibliography, were important to understanding particular words and phrases in Isaiah's writings.
The Septuagint Was Not Used in Harmonizing Isaiah
The Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible produced during the third century B.C., is a primary ancient literary witness to the Old Testament. It was not, however, used in Harmonizing Isaiah. This is because the Greek translator (or translators) of the book of Isaiah produced an exceptionally liberal translation that included the translator's personal reflections and interpretations. That is to say, the translator, while undoubtedly earnest in his attempt to create a careful and correct translation, permitted his own biases to govern the translation process. Many scholars have noted this difficulty with the Greek translation of Isaiah. For instance, Septuagint scholar Isaac Leo Seeligmann explained:
The translator's historical background never fails to exert its influence on him subjectively, and thereby on his work. The range and strength of each of these two influences vary from one case to another, and the same is true of the collection of translations preserved in the Septuagint; the translation of Isaiah is characterized in numerous places not only by a fairly considerable independence of the Hebrew text, but also by the fact that it evinces an equally marked influence from the surrounding cultural atmosphere, as well as expressing the author's personal views. This translation, in fact, is almost the only one among the various parts of the Septuagint which repeatedly reflects contemporaneous history. [In addition, the translator made effort] to contemporize the old biblical text and revive it by inspiriting it with the religious conceptions of a new age.31
|1QIsaa||The Great Isaiah Scroll|
|JST||Joseph Smith Translation|
|KJV||King James Version|
|MT||Masoretic Text (Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia)|
[ ] Encloses variant readings from the Great Isaiah Scroll, the Joseph Smith Translation, or the Book of Mormon.
( ) Encloses words that are not found in the Hebrew texts but are added to the translation to make sense of the verse.
LORD (uppercase letters). Hebrew Yahweh, from which we have the name Jehovah. The convention to employ LORD rather than Jehovah was held by many early English translations of the Old Testament, including the King James Version.
Lord (lowercase letters). Hebrew adonai, meaning "master." This term often refers to Jehovah. The convention to employ Lord was held by many early English translations of the Old Testament, including the King James Version.
The subheadings found throughout Harmonizing Isaiah are from Parry, Parry, and Peterson, Understanding Isaiah.
1. The version of the Masoretic Text that I used for Harmonizing Isaiah was the consonantal and vowel system that is part of the critical edition called Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia.
2. William H. Brownlee, The Meaning of the Qumran Scrolls for the Bible with Special Attention to the Book of Isaiah (New York: Oxford University Press, 1964), 216.
3. Ibid., 217.
4. Ibid., 217–35. See also the comments of Millar Burrows in his The Dead Sea Scrolls (New York: Viking, 1955), 304–13.
5. Harold Scanlin, The Dead Sea Scrolls and Modern Translations of the Old Testament (Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale, 1993), 27.
6. Ibid., 126.
7. David J. Clark, “The Influence of the Dead Sea Scrolls on Modern Translations of Isaiah,” Bible Translator 35 (1984):123.
8. Ibid., 124–125.
9. Larry E. Dahl and Donald Q. Cannon, eds., The Teachings of Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1997), 685.
10. Three important studies that add to our understanding of textual criticism, scribal practices, variant readings, and so forth are P. Kyle McCarter, Textual Criticism: Recovering the Text of the Hebrew Bible (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1986); Emanuel Tov, Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1992), and Ernst Würthwein, The Text of the Old Testament, trans. Erroll F. Rhodes (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1995).
11. Dahl and Cannon, Teachings of Joseph Smith, 71.
12. Ibid., 74.
13. See, for example, the discussion by Frank Moore Cross, Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1997), 60–75 (see esp. page 65).
14. For a discussion of archaisms in the King James Version, see Jack P. Lewis, The English Bible, from KJV to NIV: A History and Evaluation with Indexes (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book, 1982), 53–68.
15. Ibid., 63.
16. In this example the consonants simply will not support the vowels attached. The consonants indicate that the verb is a Qal verb, rather than than a Ni'pal. See the discussion regarding this particular reading in E. Jan Wilson, “The Biblical Term lir’ot ‘et penei yhwh in the Light of Akkadian Cultic Material,” Akkadica 93 (May-August, 1995): 21–25.
17. Wilfred G. E. Watson, Classical Hebrew Poetry (Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1984), 114.
18. James L. Kugel, The Idea of Biblical Poetry (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1981), 1.
19. Donald W. Parry, Jay A. Parry, and Tina M. Peterson, Understanding Isaiah (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1998), 603.
21. Kugel, Idea of Biblical Poetry, 8.
22. A few poetic texts that are part of the Dead Sea Scrolls library—including some psalms, proverbs, and lamentations—were formatted into stichometric arrangement, either one hemistich or one stich per line. See Emanuel Tov, “Hebrew Biblical Manuscripts from the Judaean Desert: Their Contribution to Textual Criticism” Journal of Jewish Studies 39 (1988), 26.
23. Wolfgang M. W. Roth, “The Numerical Sequence x/x+1 in the Old Testament,” Vetus Testamentum 12 (1962): 300. Roth lists some thirty-one examples of number parallelism in the Old Testament.
24. John W. Welch, ed., Chiasmus in Antiquity (Provo, Utah: Research Press, 1999), 10.
25. Donald W. Parry and Elisha Qimron, The Great Isaiah Scroll 1QIsaa: A New Edition (Leiden: Brill, 1999), vii.
26. Moshe H. Goshen-Gottstein et al., editors, The Book of Isaiah (in Hebrew) (Jerusalem: Magnes, Hebrew University, 1995).
27. See especially John Tvedtnes. “The Isaiah Variants in the Book of Mormon,” (Provo, Utah: FARMS, 1981); John A. Tvedtnes, “Isaiah Variants in the Book of Mormon,” in Monte S. Nyman, ed., Isaiah and the Prophets: Inspired Voices from the Old Testament (Provo, Utah: BYU Religious Studies Center and Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1984), 165–77; see also Parry, Parry, and Peterson, Understanding Isaiah, throughout.
28. Robert J. Matthews presents a number of “statements about the uncompleted status of the New Translation” (e.g., the Joseph Smith Translation) in his book “A Plainer Translation”: Joseph Smith’s Translation of the Bible: A History and Commentary (Provo, Utah: BYU Press, 1978), 207–218. One quotation, in particular, is especially enlightening: “We have heard President Brigham Young state that the Prophet, before his death,had spoken to him about going through the translation of the Scriptures again and perfecting it upon points of doctrine which the Lord had restrained him from giving in plainness and fulness at the time of which we write [2 February 1833].” George Q. Cannon, cited in Matthews “A Plainer Translation,” 207.
29. For a history of the coming forth of the Joseph Smith Translation, as well as statements about its authority and publication, see Robert J. Matthews, “A Plainer Translation.” On the value and significance of the variant readings of the JST, see ibid., 219–32. The JST makes numerous doctrinal contributions about the nature of God and man, Jesus Christ’s ministry and teachings, Noah, Melchizedek, Joseph, the Law of Moses, and many other matters of significance. Further, it clarifies many biblical passages and reconciles numerous contradictory statements. It is a product of inspiration through the Lord’s seer and translator Joseph Smith. For a discussion and presentation of various contributions that the JST makes to gospel doctrine, see ibid., 255–390.
30. Joseph Smith's New Translation of the Bible Original Manuscripts, Scott R. Faulring, Kent P. Jackson, and Robert J. Matthews, eds. (Provo, Utah: BYU Religious Studies Center, 2002).
31. Isaac L. Seeligman, The Septuagint Version of Isaiah: A Discussion of its Problems (Leiden: Brill, 1948), 3–4.