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Translation of Texts

in Zechariah, Romans and Isaiah

Includes in order:

 Items: 27, 37, 16, 20, 2, 9




27)  In Zechariah 9:17 the NKJV does not correctly render, except in the margin, where it correctly shows what is actually written, the text.


In Zechariah 9:17 the NKJV does not contextually rightly  render, except in the margin, where it correctly shows what is actually written, the text.


We are not referring to the great goodness of many, but to that of one, of whom it may truthfully be asserted.. It is not to an entire people, themselves rescued only by the blood of the covenant (Zechariah 9:11), that such an accolade is given, but to Him who by His own blood (cf. Zechariah 12:10),does the rescuing .There IS ONE in the context, God to whom, in His meticulous mercy as here illustrated, the praise applies. Someone rescued from drowning is not normally deemed heroic.

The singular has a natural place, that of only ONE which, or who is in view. There is no ground for introducing the word "its" in the context; and in putting "its" for "his". In so  doing,  you embark on an intrusion, if not invasion of the sentiment both here and as is normal in scripture. This is that it is GOD who is good and the greatness of goodness is HIS, definitively!

Indeed, in Zechariah 9:15-16, just previously, we learn that "the LORD of hosts shall defend them... and  LORD their  God shall save them in that day as the flock of His people," something following naturally from 9:9:12, "Turn to the stronghold, you prisoners of hope!"; and it is God who is going to act in goodness, mercy and overwhelming strength for His people.

GOODNESS AND MERCY FOLLOW, but I do not LEAD with them. They find their place in me by derivation and it is the source I signalise, praise and acclaim. In the Bible man is not his own saviour, nor is the one occasioning the vast work of salvation, deemed to have great goodness; indeed, anything but in the natural state (Isaiah 64:6). Thus turning His to its is a work which, quite simply, the context does not warrant or permit. It is, in particular, the Lord who DEFENDS them; it is HE who will SAVE them(9:15-16), and it is He who in His gracious deliverance, deems them like jewels. Such was it His grace to favour, them, and it is in Him they glory (cf. Isaiah 2:17).



37) Here, in Romans 3:25, the NKJV has an advantage, in putting, "by His blood" instead of "in", as both translations are permissible, but the latter may suggest to idolatrising minds an idea not in the original. On the other hand, the NKJV also changes the order from "through faith in His blood" to "by His blood through faith".

It is best to preserve where possible the order given,  often indicative of intimate meaning or emphasis, however. Perhaps the best way of all might be this:

§by faith through His blood.

Such matters as these show chiefly, perhaps, the importance of actually understanding what is being said, in stead of relying on what some one translation or translator has to say, with however good an intention. The body has many gifts, and where there is no clear contrariety from the Lord, it is best to use them.

The point is that the blood is indeed the transmissive basis, but that it is NOT the objective fluid: it is its having been shed and the purpose of it which is to the point. Thus Colossians 2:21-22 shows it is HIS DEATH which the blood symbolises, and that it is HIMSELF in whom faith must rest. This passage tells us: "Now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and irreproachable in His sight...", and this is all dealt with at great length in Hebrews 8-10 (e.g. Hebrews 10:10,14 and so on). Similarly John 5:23-24, 3:16, Romans 10:9 make it clear, as so often, it is in HIM we trust; but of course, it is HE who has done these marvellous things, even to the point of blood, which testifies of the payment and its adequacy, the suffering and its completeness, its setting and its efficacious character.


ISAIAH 13:12


16) Isaiah 13:12 in the NKJV has "mortal man" as that which is precious. However the Hebrew does not necessarily have this translation, and it does not satisfy all the components of the broader context. It is more "human" in the sense of mankind, on which the focus is made. The term "rare" again, has a strong connotation of "precious" as in the KJV. The word "man" on the next line is also one which has the sense of a son of man, of mankind, sons of Adam. It could be translated less intrusively by putting it:

§'I will make a human more precious than fine gold,
a man more than the golden wedge..'

Now in Isaiah 28:6 we find this same word "precious" use of the great foundation stone, and that is of great contextual significance both as to language used and meaning in view (cf. Isaiah 11:2-4, 12:2, 40:10, 41:29-42:1, 49:6). Is it not the small valuing of HIM (Zechariah 11:12-13) at 30 pieces of silver, who is THE LORD \ the speaker there, which brings in the trouble to the uttermost? GOD is NOT mocked!

The sense here would appear NOT to be, that you will not find a man, except most rarely - for there appear numbers of them; but that a MAN a HUMAN, a member of this race as to form at least, will be precious, will be incarnation of God, will be rendered vulnerable, will be available. In view of what elsewhere in this book is shown of the infamous treatment accorded this precious cornerstone (as Isaiah 28:16 calls Him), there will indeed be a "shaking of the heaven", as the very next verse in Isaiah 13 tells us.

As Hebrews 12:25-28 puts it,

"For if they did not escape, who refused Him who spoke on earth,
much more shall we not escape if we turn away form Him who speaks from heaven."

The things that CAN be shaken are going to be! THIS is the chief ground, that the things which CANNOT be shaken remain. HE cannot be moved. Nor will those who have "fled to Him for refuge " (Hebrews 6:18).

The emphasis on someone of the HUMAN RACE, the Son of Man, as Christ called Himself, is therefore best left within the translation as suggested, instead of the "mortal man" which is not precisely what is written.


Isaiah 53:10

20) The NKJV has a capital for "You" in Isaiah 53:10. This is one interpretation, the original not determining this point. If you take this then that GOD is making the SACRIFICE for sin in this verse, the translation "if" would be ludicrous, for the thing is seen as DONE.

If it is translated not "if" but "when", as it may be, then you have the paradox that WHEN He makes this of His Son, in the most poignant moment in history, THEN the Son sees His seed. Not so. Then the Son cried out, My God, My God, why have you forsaken ME! There could hardly be any less apposite concept.

Further, as Professor E.J.Young points out in his trilogy The Book of Isaiah (Vol. III, p. 354), "God is not addressed in this passage but rather is spoken of in the third person both before and after this verse. Furthermore, sacrifices were offered up not by God but to Him. Although the Lord does bring about the death of the servant, He is not the Offerer. In verse 12 the servant receives the reward for his work, which proves that it is he himself who offers the sacrifice." We may add to this. God in heaven, as distinct from the human-formatted servant, is not addressed in this verse, nor in the preceding chapter, nor in the two following! It is indeed the action of the offerer, the labourer, the sufferer which is rewarded, "He shall divide the spoil with the strong, because He poured out His soul unto death" (v.12).

Indeed, if you consider the mode of address, the milieu of terminology, the intimacy of the passage, not only is God being addressed constantly in the third person, so that any question must relate to this mode, if the context is to make things clear (Proverbs 8:8), as we must expect when any ambiguity might otherwise arise, but there is another fascinating feature. "You" or if you will, "thou" is a term in constant use in this chapter, the preceding and the two succeeding. It is used in this way directly or by implication (as in an imperative) - some 15 times in Ch.52, and some 39 times in the next chapter!

It is not too much to say that the address TO the sinner, or TO the people is constant, evocative, intimate, persistent, penetrating, occurring as if one were looking over one's shoulder to a fellow labourer and constantly stating or implying 'you' almost at every turn. Thus, there is the comforting closeness of 52:1-2, where God is telling Zion to re-dress (cf. 61:10, where justification is in view), as in 45:25 - "In the Lord shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and glory", as in 53:5,8,11, in our immediate context. Such themes are woven into the work like threads in tapestry, constant, thematic. "Your God reigns!" is the cry to Zion in 52:7. "Depart!" He exclaims in 52:11, as the tardy sinner is addressed in terms of holiness to the Lord. It is all focussed on "you" or "thou" and "He", the Lord who speaks in solace, comfort and the offers of salvation to the one addressed.

Similarly, at the very start of 53, "Who has believed our report?" is a personalised proposition, searching into the soul of the listener. In Ch.54, there are numerous encouragements to the same addressee: "Enlarge the place of your tent!", "Do not spare!", "You will forget the shame of your youth!", "For a mere moment, I have forsaken you, with a little wrath I hid my face from you for a moment, but with everlasting kindness I will have mercy on you," says the Lord, your Redeemer."

In this last case, not only is the subject spoken to as 'you', but the Lord speaks of Himself as 'your Redeemer'. The material before us is soaked in 'you', in individual, in joint, in continual circumnavigations of the soul of the listener. "Oh you afflicted one!" , "Great shall be the peace of your children!".

In the next chapter, 55, it becomes if possible more intensive. "Ho, every one who thirsts, come to the waters, and you who have no money, come, buy and eat!" The evangelical thrust, the penetrating appeal, the solacing spiritual challenge is vigorous but tender. "Why do you spend your money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? ... I will make an everlasting covenant with you - the sure mercies of David. Indeed I have given him as a witness to the people, a leader and commander for the people. .. Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way..." Such is the continual thrust and command, offer and appeal in this whole area of Isaiah. Indeed, in these three Chapters, 52-54, there are scores of usages of 'you' and 'your' in all manner of approaches, uniformly not relating to deity but to man, and 55 specialises in such appeals and referrals.

Therefore, we must confirm mightily what E.J. Young has to say on this particular point: that God is not the One addressed. Not only is God NOT addressed in this context, but Zion and the individual sinner are both addressed in the second person, literally scores of times. This is the whole tenor of the passage - what HE, God is doing, what His servant is doing in His name, and those to whom He is doing it, repeatedly called to mind and called in heart, with 'you'. The sacrificial physician, spending his life for his patients, is being exposed in honour, while the patients are being appealed to, so that they take advantage of His labours on their behalf. HE does this, and YOU should do that, receive it, eat, drink, dress, come out, receive, be covered from sin.

That then simply confirms the need to AVOID the third personal rendering. Equally however, we must emphasise, it confirms the need to USE the second personal ending, which is the dominating feature with the interchange between "Him" and the appeal, in the overall passage; and this to such an extent that it is rather a matter of seeing why to think of it as at all varied from this pattern and format at all, than why to render in terms of 'you' as so often.

We therefore cannot rightly force into the context either verbally or in terms of the connotations, 'You' as the divine addressee in 53:10. It is NOT - "When You shall make His soul..."

What however if one should consider putting not 'You", but "his soul" as the subject, so that the force is this: WHEN HIS SOUL makes a sin offering... ? This would certainly be an extraordinary variant, since we have been considering the servant as "him" or as "he' all through, rather than a "soul". We might in context have expected, perhaps, When He shall offer His soul...", since then the contour of thought would be unvaried. That however is not what the text provides for us. In form, it is EITHER second person singular masculine, or third person singular feminine.

This contour, this mode of address and of interchange between the One in whose name these words are given, and the one/ones to whom they are addressed, of course does not HAVE to be unvaried. When however ambiguity can arise, it is important to consult the evidence which ANY writer has seen fit to provide, to guide one into the chosen thought. Otherwise the writer becomes unclear, something God forbids in Proverbs 8:8 for the wisdom of His speech. Moreover, since the verb in "shall offer" is second person, and his soul is not, the text is not yielding this kind of option at all. It is always best to leave the text alone unless there is obvious misreading, and this is normative. The results of relatively careless intervention are fraught with peril, and often become a hotbed of philosophic intrusion into the word of God, with as much gall as gumption.

If nevertheless, you put, "When His soul shall make a sacrifice for sin" , then we appear to have contorted language. In the Old Testament, the priest made a sacrifice of the soul of the living creature... of its life. Now, at Calvary Christ was offering Himself, thereby being both priest and sacrifice. Does it then mean to say this: When His life shall offer His life? Actually, it is His spirit which offers, the spirit which was heavy at Gethsemane and which He commended at the end of the agony, into His Father's hands (Luke 23:46). It is also a variation from the norm of expression for sacrifice. The LIFE is OFFERED. It does not offer. The priest offers, the spirit, or the person, it is this which offers the life.

Indeed, in verse 10, already, the operation of sin-bearing by appointment has been covered; it has 'pleased the Lord to bruise Him'. Now arises the consequence FROM this PAST. When YOU later act, Zion, or individual sinner, to utilise this offering, THEN HE will see the efficacy with joy. When the individual, when Zion should so act, when the "you" who has been addressed, is being addressed and is about to be addressed continually in these chapters, as we have just shown: when THIS is to act, as constantly exhorted throughout to act, and to act in this sacred way, THEN, as constantly throughout also, THEN the purpose of the Lord will be fulfilled. THEN?

It is THEN that the evangelical marvel will be appreciated, its fruits gained, its justifying power will arise and be satisfied - indeed THAT is precisely what the very next verse goes on to relate. "By His knowledge, my righteous servant shall justify many!" and THIS, continually upon the listening ear-drum like rain, is what is beating, beating on the mind. YOU eat, YOU drink, YOU dress, YOU come out - and here, YOU take as a sin-offering HIS soul.

His "soul" or "life" here becomes apt as the receivable offering, in that at death it is as one slaughtered. It is as such that it is received. The whole ignominious insult, the degrading lump of flesh concept is here. It is WHAT He is made of, HOW He is disregarded in SLAUGHTER which comes through; as it is not His soul which offers, but His life, His soul which IS the object of slaughter, the one to be received, in whom the impending justification about to be mentioned, occurs.

It is God who puts Him to grief, we find in verse 10; and as to the servant, it is He whose life is to be received.

We do not, on the contrary, in verse 10 find a finished act of being "put to grief" suddenly unfinished, any more than we find a tragic phase allied WHILE IN FOCUS, with joy. Sequence - the sufferings and afterward the glory . Even if it were a parallel expression, it would be a movement from past to present, from a death already in view re suffering (v.9 "He made His grave", with v.10a), to a death merely in prospect; and it is looking at joy in the presence of the death as about to occur. The joy however is for the future, not at the prospect of dying, which was accompanied by loud cries, as Hebrews 5 tells us, beforehand in an agony of grief. To refocus the 'operation', in prospect, while speaking of joy in terms of this operation, is neither natural nor necessary. The joy was set before Him, not experienced then: that is the position as given to us.

The "putting to grief" and the "trespass offering" being set are different aspects of the one thing. It is the UTILISATION of the offering which is the moment of marvel, the transforming of the tragedy, when the whole enactment, completed in resurrection, is publicised (cf. 53:12). Then indeed He who faced an initial situation which appeared as if "I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and in vain" (49:4) finds His "just reward", for it is "too small a thing that You should be My servant, to raise up the tribes of Jacob... I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, that You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth." THAT is the payload! There is the transformation!

Indeed, the tense is past as Isaiah 53 develops, dwelling on what has been accomplished, as a fait accompli, whereas in 53:10 the action is rather future, concerning what may be done by some party in the future. That, in terms of the sacrificial structure concerning things seen as PAST, is an exception, an exemption from the continuity of thought.

What then IS future to the atonement, viewed in the preceding verses, as accomplished in the graphic past ? It is of course what indeed will allow the recipient of the gift so gained, to operate as fulfilment of that very gift of the Giver, This occurs  when the believer actually takes it, so that the Giver sees THEN of the travail of His soul and is satisfied. Here the tense change makes sense and give the sense, the profound sense of coming fulfilment for this holy and magnificent outlay of divine grace in the crucifixion, the sacrificial giving for "the life of the world," John 6:51,54.  True, "My words are spirit and they are life," as in John 6:61-62, so that if the Son of man returns to heaven, as planned and predicted, where then any 'eating' in parallel with the paschal lamb ?

It would be ridiculous; and such is the implication. But received in reality, here lies with the drinking of the blood, a pair jointly symbolic of broken body and lapsed live, so that there is no symbolic salvation; but the gift which His dedicated corpse achieved, and His resurrection both depicted and demonstrated, is transferred effectually.

It is then, when the soul believing receives this bread, that the life which it symbolises explodes into the soul which so acts. It is exhibited and felt WHEN the evangel meets the evangelised and the latter meet in this saving relationship, the Lord Himself.

Not only so, but this works into Isaiah 54 and 55, before 56-58 have their relevance addressed, leading to a profound assurance - though the mountains pass, in Isaiah 54 - and a vastly tender entreaty, then, to come, as in Isaiah 55. Indeed right up to Isaiah 59, this provides the backdrop, personal and at length international, to the development. It fits snugly, like gloves, into the whole mode of appeal in Isaiah, into the various depictions of special aspects, like the sunset, glowing in all directions with concerted meaning from a fixed point. Such is the result of this aspect in Isaiah 53, and all the accompany elements.

Hence the rendering preferred is this:

§"When you make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed" -

the same as the NKJV except for this, the 'y' in You is not capitalised. Without children of His own physically, He gains them, nonetheless spiritually, WHEN anyone makes of His sacrifice an offering for sin, faith being the avenue and salvation being the result, as grace is the efficient cause. Ch.54 goes on "For the Lord has called you", "Sing, O barren", "This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of Me!"

In sum: While the NKJV is better here than the putting of 'His soul' as subject, as some do, it is worse than leaving the 'y' small. A note would have helped here.

But more importantly, here you see an illustration of the cohesion, the majestic drive and dynamic of the Bible, so that if you interfere with the text or the clear context for the sake of some idea of limited validity and much appeal, then NOT ONLY are you liable to miss the solid reality of the meaning, forsaking this for enchanted ground which moves, but to avoid or even void the cherished shoots from the branch, which in the Bible are applying some concept or feature on many sides.

THAT, in turn, is one more verification of the status and stature, the quality and depth of the declarations of Almighty God, of the text of the Bible.

An Excerpt for More Coverage

from The Shadow of a Mighty Rock, p. 727:

*15 Hundreds of prophecies in the old Testament bore on Christ and were duly, as always, fulfilled. We are not pursuing that particular topic here. It was this same Jesus Christ who said (John 14:6):

I am the way, the truth and the life:

no man comes to the Father

except by Me.

It was Isaiah who wrote, concerning Christ being hustled with profound rejection to the Cross:

Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him;

He has put Him to grief.

When you make His soul an offering for sin,

He shall SEE His seed,

{That is, when you receive Him (Isaiah 53:1, John 1:12), He will see you as a child of God - this is life's entry.

It is thus He prolongs - you prolong His days here (``Christ in you'') through His sacrifice.

By this sacrifice (Col. 1:21-22), He shortened His earthly days (Ps. 102:23-102:10-13 is cited in Hebrews 1:10-12).}

He shall prolong His days,

and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand...

By His knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many;
{that is, acquit them by bearing their sins }
for He shall bear their iniquities ... Isaiah 53:10-11.

In all solemnity, one must ask : Are you one of that "many" ? Have you made His soul, His life an offering for your sin, accepting the sacrifice rendered ?

He saw life not when but because He saw death; and that life, is it yours ?

For more on this text and meaning,  see The Bountiful, The Accountable and the Surmountable Epilogue.


Leviticus 19:20

2) In Leviticus 19:20, the AV has "she shall be scourged" in the text, for the case where a slave girl, betrothed, has intercourse with some man.

In the margin, it puts "there shall be a scourging". Actually, the use of 'she' in the text, when the Hebrew is so impersonally rendered in the AV margin, in such a case, is not good. The fault is mitigated by the margin which has for the AV a better rendering; but the error in the text is merely the more obvious from it.

Other renderings are "there shall be an inquisition" (Revised Version, margin, set as the 'Hebrew') , "a court enquiry shall be conducted" (Berkeley), a judicial assessment which does not of course preclude the finding being innocent, though the possibility of a negative finding is certainly there. The reward, result, is not to be presumed. Indeed, Harris, Archer and Waitke in their Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, speak of the possible rendering, 'compensation', query 'scourging', and show the root in terms of the concept of searching and care. We might safely render:

§"there shall be a judicial assessment".

What is clear is this: investigation, care, concern and results are to occur because of the incident; and what is required, short of death is to occur. In view of this, it was important not to put the 'she' in the text, along with the Hebrew margin 'there shall be'.

It may raise questions of justice, and there is no cause or ground for this to be found in the text. Here the NKJV is better: "there shall be scourging", since it does not presuppose it is to her alone. ONE of them at least must be guilty, so some scourging might well occur. Of course, you may say, he has to pay as the following verses indicate, while she being bond has to suffer rather than pay; and so there is justice. But if SHE were innocent ?

  • In fact, the text seems a straightforward case of there shall be ... scourging, or a judicial enquiry, depending on the translation of the term used.. Further, it is hard to see why the 'scourging' is taken as sure in any sense. Forcing may have been the case, in which case the judicial enquiry, short of death penalty, would do as was required. She is not to be forced and then scourged without cause!
  • Hence the NKJV is a better rendering, since it does not presume in this point, any negation relative to strict justice; but even it seems to go rather beyond the needs of the word to be translated, as noted above. Notwithstanding, its avoidance of the term 'she' at least prevents the needless impugning of basic justice, as the KJV appears to do here, without textual warrant.

It is good the KJV has the margin as it does; it would be far better not to have the translation that it does here in the text itself.

What then ? With care, one avoids error; but such things as these, even in an excellent translation, prevent idolatrous assumptions; as they distance even presumptuous attributions to a preferred version, or indeed laziness, as though excellence were perfection, and "second inspiration" had occurred.

9)  In Psalm 90:12, the KJV has : SO TEACH US TO NUMBER OUR DAYS THAT WE MAY APPLY OUR HEARTS UNTO WISDOM. This has a beautiful sound, is most instructive, but is not precisely a rendering in any discernible way, of the words written. The sense relates; the translation is not simply of what is there.

The NKJV is more accurate here; SO TEACH US TO NUMBER OUR DAYS THAT WE MAY GAIN A HEART OF WISDOM. Keil and Delitzsch, the noted and amazingly scholarly commentators of long fame, whose knowledge of the original languages is immense and who are very articulate, considered possible translations. They criticised with careful grammatical exegesis various possible translations and supposed renderings put forward in t his case. Their translation is the one given by the NKJV. They of course wrote long before it was ever made. It is pointed out that the verb in view 'bring" (in the phrase rendered in the KJV "apply our hearts") may have an overtone from agricultural usage, bring is as a harvest, as a product, as a gain. How then will you render - that we may bring a heart of wisdom ... in view of this? One rendering is just that: bring a heart of wisdom.

In our idiom, however, this is not exceptionally expressive. What then? It is possible to ponder and consider the nuances of this verb, and seek the meaning... that we "bring in a heart of wisdom" or gain a heat of wisdom, bring to pass a heart of wisdom. Thus these commentators and translators present the version that the NKJV adopts.

How then did the KJV get 'apply our hears to wisdom' ? It is not entirely easy to see; but one can try to consider what it might have been. What if the thinking is as follows: that we may bring in (like a harvest) a heart of wisdom; that we may ponder (following 'according to thy fear, so is thy wrath') the shortness of our days and the strength of the divine countenance and with diligent watchfulness, surveying all things under the mighty hand of God , with no illusions. Thus, realistic and God-fearing, we get on with, bring in, gain a wisdom of heart. If then this is, as might appear, the contextual thrust, its force might appear:

  • that we might apply our hearts to matters of wisdom in such a way that it is a wise perspective and mode of operation which AS A RESULT WE GET.


To say the least, however, this is not what is written. It is a possible bridge between what is written and the KJV. The NKJV is what is written. Try as one might, it would be hard to criticise the NKJV in this case, far less in comparison with the KJV, if accuracy is the criterion, if the object is the simple rendering what is there in its pith, and point.

That is a difficulty of translating. You can go too far in being 'helpful', or you can not be helpful enough. It is best in the end, using our own idiom, yet not to transgress into the helpfulness which substitutes the help for the text.

Finally, considering the very in another aspect, the verbal base is one meaning 'to come, to go, to bring in' and the form of that verb in this text is the causative, which means, to bring in, to lead... to CAUSE to come in. It is a very common word, used some 2570 times in the Old Testament. Thus it comes to have various idiomatic meanings, such as that of harvest and so on. In fact, noun derived from this verb, has the meaning "a coming in, being stored up income, profit; produce fruit, result". Thus we see a background to the matter, and for any rendering such as gain or produce .. . a heart of wisdom.

The NKJV is sound here, and we might perhaps render also:

  • §"So teach us to number our days that we might secure a heart of wisdom." This may well give the feeling of product, result, storing up.