What is an Isaiah moment? It’s when the name keeps popping up, in all sorts of unusual places, to the point where you think it’s about time you opened that ‘book’ again, and see what needs, or wants, to be seen. So today, on Good Friday (a Christian oxymoron), I have been having those moments that say ‘come here to look’ .. so I opened the book .. but before I opened the book, I also read an email sent from a pen pal site, by some lovely JW’s in their 80’s, to my husband, who are evangelising the world, one pen pal at a time – which reminded me of my other JW visitors, who have not come back since I refused to argue with them over a quote in Isaiah, that in the NOAB is the opposite of what is written in their accepted version of this very challenging Book. Just for fun, because I have not done an exegesis for a long time, let me quote from both bibles – actually .. let’s compare the whole chapter, one line at a time, because in comparing two bibles I am often dumbfounded at the differences.’
The JW’s bible is called “New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures” .. no offence intended, but its not a good translation .. back to Isaiah – Chapter 61 because I opened the book there:
NOAB: 1 The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners;
NWT: 1 The spirit of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah is up me, because Jehovah anointed me to declare good news to the meek. He sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and the wide opening of the eyes of the prisoners.
There are no notes of explanation in the NWT, but the NOAB states that the (physical) ‘release’ is from slavery .. nothing about opening eyes, which, can be another form of release, but put in context, that’s not what was being talked about here. And a meek person does not have to be oppressed, nor does an oppressed person automatically become meek .. so who translated that?
NOAB: 2 … to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn;
NWT: 2 To proclaim the year of Jehovah’s goodwill and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn,
Meaning of favour: approval, support, or liking for someone or something:
- overgenerous preferential treatment:
- an act of kindness beyond what is due or usual:
- feel or show approval or preference for:
- Meaning of goodwill: friendly, helpful, or cooperative feelings or attitude:
- the established reputation of a business regarded as a quantifiable asset and calculated as part of its value when it is sold.
Hmm… I can see some similarities here. One includes presents, the other is just emotions .. and both quotes agree that God intends to be vengeful.
NOAB: 3 to provide for those who mourn in Zion – to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit. They will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, to display his glory.
NWT: 3 To provide for those mourning over Zion, to give them a headdress instead of ashes, the oil of exultation instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a despondent spirit. And they will be called big trees of righteousness, the planting of Jehovah, in order to glorify him.
There’s a difference between mourning ‘in’ Zion, and mourning ‘over’ it. The first infers that the town still exists, the other that it doesn’t. Other differences are similar enough to not be focused on, garland (a wreath of flowers and leaves, worn on the head or hung as a decoration, but not necessarily around a person’s neck) and headdress, oaks and big trees, and a person with a ‘faint’ spirit and one who is despondent.
Meaning of faint: Lacking courage and spirit (cowardly)
Meaning of despondent: in low spirits from loss of hope or courage
But is there a difference between people given a gift by God to ‘display’ his glory, and those given the gifts in order to glorify Him? Is God showing off in the first translation, or asking for praise in the second? Which asks the question .. since humans have egos, does God? An ego can be offended, it can be angry, it can be judgmental, it can be frightened, it can seek justice, or vengeance .. going on the described behaviours of Jehovah, he definitely has an ego. But where is the Love?
NOAB: 4 They shall build up the ancient ruins, they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities; the devastations of many generations.
NWT: 4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins; they will raise up the desolated places of the past, and they will restore the devastated cities, the places that lay desolate for generation to generation.
Wordy but similar
NOAB: 5 Strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, foreigners shall till your land and dress your vines; 6: but you shall be called priests of the Lord, you shall be named ministers of our God; you shall enjoy the wealth of the nations, and in their riches you shall glory.
NWT: 5 Strangers will stand and shepherd your flocks, and foreigners will be your farmers and your vinedressers. 6 As for you, you will be called the priests of Jehovah; they will call you the ministers of our God. You will eat the resources of the nations, and about their glory you will boast.
The explanation for 5 & 6 is that “the Judeans will be to Gentiles as priests to laity. They will enjoy ample support and will receive a double share for double punishment.” Is this karma in action? The book then refers to Isaiah 40:2 where God slammed Jerusalem for its sins, but as compensation he’s now given them an under-class (servants) to do all their work, and tells them they will be able to boast about what they have ‘received’ .. or is it stolen .. from others (NOAB), or has the NWT been mistranslated to say that the Judeans would be happy for others, or is it just another way of saying what the NOAB says? This throws my thoughts back to the passages that say “I don’t like that tribe of people (or even Moses’ people (Numbers 14:11-19)), so I am going to destroy them, or you go and destroy them for me – down to the last man and cattle (Saul)”. Back to ‘does Jehovah have an ego’?
Slightly off topic there, but you can see the difference in the two translations of the same writing.
NOAB: 7 Because their shame was double, and dishonour was proclaimed as their lot, therefore they shall possess a double portion; everlasting joy shall be theirs.
NWT: 7 Instead of shame you will have a double portion, and instead of humiliation they will shout joyfully over their share.
As a direct translation, the NWT is not even close. On other thoughts – Is Jehovah compensating the Judeans for an incredible flash of temper? Why does Jehovah feel the need for ‘double’ compensation? Have the people changed enough to deserve it, or is it just another form of emotional manipulation, pat with one hand and punish with another? It wasn’t some other entity lying to them and destroying their cities and people (shades of Job), it was the same god demanding worship again. No wonder people are confused about God, when they read passages like this.
NOAB: 8 For I the lord love justice, I hate robbery and wrongdoing; I will faithfully give them their recompense, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.
NWT: 8 For I, Jehovah, love justice; I hate robbery and unrighteousness. I will faithfully give them their wages, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.
If you flip back in your bible a few ‘books’ you’ll find the story of Job, that puts a lie to that whole statement, good translations or not. I have written comments on his ‘book’ before, so just seek them out.
NOAB: 9 Their descendants shall be known among the nations, and their offspring among the people; all who see them shall acknowledge that they are a people who the Lord has blessed.
NWT: 9 Their offspring will be known among the nations and their descendants among the peoples. All who see them will recognise them, that they are the offspring whom Jehovah has blessed.
Um… complete reversal of the first sentence – says the same thing. Have to wonder how and why someone would choose to do that? And acknowledging and recognising can be two different things.
NOAB: 10 I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my whole being shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
NWT: 10 I will greatly exult in Jehovah. My whole being will rejoice in my God. For he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; He has wrapped me with the robe of righteousness, just like a bridegroom who wears a turban like that of a priest. And like a bride who adorns herself with her ornaments.
Again the reversal of the words exult and rejoice in the first sentence. And there’s a huge difference between a garland (which could be anything) and a ‘turban like a priest’. And so I pull out a third bible “The interlinear Bible” in Hebrew, Greek and English to enquire …
INT: 10 I will greatly rejoice in Jehovah. My soul shall be joyful in my God. For he clothed me with garments of salvation; he put on me the robe of righteousness, even as a bridegroom is adorned with his ornament, and as the bridge wears her jewels. (No turbans, no garland either).
And then rises the thought that – if Salvation only comes through Jesus Christ, and Christ is still 800 or so years away, how can Jehovah have clothed this man in the garments of salvation? The man would long be dead, gone to bones and then dust before Jesus stepped it the scene. There’s nothing about waiting the second coming of the Lord, to provide resurrection for these people.
And then to finish the chapter …
NOAB: 11 For as the earth brings forth its shoots, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations.
NWT: 11 For as the earth brings forth its sprouts and as the garden makes what is sown in it sprout, so will the Sovereign Lord Jehovah cause righteousness and praise to sprout before all the nations.
Praise of what? Don’t get me started, it’s all downhill.
There will be a part 2 ….