Isaiah 40:26

alanf00 at home.com alanf00 at home.com
Mon Jun 11 02:58:51 EDT 2001


I would like the opinion of Hebrew scholars about the accuracy 
of translation of a word in Isaiah 40:26. In "Tanakh - The Holy 
Scriptures" (JPS 1985) this reads in part: "Because of His great 
MIGHT and vast power
" The word in question is "MIGHT".

According to "Analytical Key to the Old Testament" (Vol. 4, 
p. 123) this is a correct translation. According to various 
Hebrew lexicons I've checked, the original Hebrew root word 
used here for "might" (" 'own "; Strong's Concordance entry 
202) can mean "might, power, strength, vigor, ability, faculty, 
force, virile and genital power, manhood, wealth".
In the more than thirty English translations I've checked, in Isaiah 
40:26 the word is translated as "might, power, strength, vigor, 
glory".

Only one translation I've come across varies from the above: 
"The New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures" produced 
by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. In this translation 
Isaiah 40:26 reads: "Due to the abundance of DYNAMIC 
ENERGY, he also being vigorous in power
" Here, " 'own " is 
translated as "dynamic energy".

I don't necessarily think that "dynamic energy" is a poor 
rendering here, as long as one keeps in mind certain limitations, 
but if one neglects these limitations one can overinterpret what 
the Bible writer actually meant. What I mean is this: since the 
Watchtower Society first published its translation of Isaiah in 
1958, it has gradually moved toward a position that claims that 
Isaiah 40:26 actually confirms Einstein's equation for the 
relationship between matter and energy, "E=mc^2". This is all in 
support of its position that the Bible contains solid scientific 
statements that could only be there by inspiration.

For example, the WTS's magazine "Awake!" (June 22, 1999, p. 
6) stated: "... This relationship between matter and energy was 
expressed by Einstein’s famous formula E=mc2 
 From where, 
though, did the matter and the energy needed for such a 
“transformation” originate? Science has no satisfying answer. 
Interestingly, the Bible says of God: “Due to the abundance of 
DYNAMIC ENERGY, he also being vigorous in power, not 
one of them [the heavenly bodies] is missing.” (Isaiah 40:26) 
Whatever means God used to create the universe, he clearly has 
the energy and the power needed to do so."

The WTS's 1998 book "Is There a Creator Who Cares About 
You?" stated (p. 90) that, based on Isaiah 40:26, the Bible 
"clearly shows the relationship between energy and matter."

Their 1993 brochure "Why Should We Worship God in Love 
and Truth?" stated (p. 9): "The source of matter in the universe, 
says the Bible, is "the abundance of [God’s] dynamic energy." 
(Isaiah 40:26) Today, some 2,700 years after that was written, 
modern science has discovered that all matter is basically 
materialized energy."

These and similar ideas seem to have first been clearly stated by 
the WTS in its 1976 book "Holy Spirit - The Force Behind the 
Coming New Order!" in the chapter "The Superhuman Source 
of Holy Spirit" under the subtitle "God the Source of All 
Energy". It stated (pp. 8-9): "God lives to endless time, to keep 
on producing and creating beyond the present universe, 
expanding it. This signifies that he is the bottomless reservoir of 
all energy. All the things of the universe are bundles of particles 
of energy from him. These have been brought together into 
masses large and small. The twentieth-century scientist Albert 
Einstein worked out this formula for it: energy equals mass times 
the speed of light squared (or, E=mc2). 
 For example, note 
the almost unbelievable claim that He makes for himself, as he 
tells us to raise our eyes to the skies by night and admire the 
stars. He says: “Raise your eyes high up and see. Who has 
created these things? It is the One who is bringing forth the army 
of them even by number, all of whom he calls even by name. 
Due to the abundance of dynamic energy, he also being vigorous 
in power, not one of them is missing.”—Isaiah 40:26."

This position seems to have been hinted at not long after the 
WTS's new translation of Isaiah was published in 1958. The 
WTS magazine "The Watchtower" (July 15, 1961, p. 426), 
under the title "The Source of All Dynamic Energy and Vigorous 
Power" stated: "What, then, can be said of the One who created 
and harnessed such forces of the material universe? Surely His 
power and energy are far greater than these things that he made. 
“Raise your eyes high up and see. Who has created these 
things? [A mere earth-bound atom-smashing scientist? Oh no!] 
It is the One who is bringing forth the army of them even by 
number, all of whom he calls even by name. [All the astronomers 
together cannot so much as count or number the stars, much less 
call them all by name.] Due to the abundance of dynamic energy, 
he [Jehovah] also being vigorous in power, not one of them is 
missing.” (Isa. 40:26) Ah yes, not only by Jehovah’s dynamic 
energy and vigorous power did he create and fashion the whole 
celestial cosmos into one grand and harmonious unity, but he 
also controls and uses it to suit his sovereign will and glorious 
purpose. What an awesome display of almightiness!"

It is obvious from what sort of position the Watchtower Society 
has produced its Bible translation. What I want to know is 
scholarly opinion of the propriety of the "New World 
Translation's" rendering of Isaiah 40:26, given the above 
information.

Alan Feuerbacher















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