Your sons or your Builder? (Is 62:5)

Ben and Jo Crick ben.crick at
Sun Jul 7 17:29:49 EDT 2002

On Sat  6 Jul 2002 (17:05:50 +0200), tony.larsson at wrote:
> I have a question on Is 62:5, which reads in the NIV:
> As a young man marries a maiden,
> so will your sons* marry you;
> as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride,
> so will your God rejoice over you.
> This reading agrees with most of the older translations (KJV as well as
> the older translations to Swedish, my mother tongue), and is also the
> one that LXX has chosen, vocalising BNYK as BFNFYIK: (banayikh).
> However, the newest Swedish translation, Bibel 2000, translates this as
> "your Builder will marry you", a reading that is given in a footnote to
> the NIV as well as in the BHS apparatus (BONYK or BON"K), as the Lord
> is
> called the Builder of Jerusalem in Ps 147:2. 
> The latter reading seems to be a better match both for the parallellism
> (as God is definitely the one that marries Zion in the second
> half-verse) and for the overall theology, with God as bridegroom and
> His people as the bride throughout the rest of the OT and NT, with the
> possible exception of the wedding Psalm 45:
> Your sons will take the place of your fathers;
> you will make them princes throughout the land.
> (Ps 45:17)
> So much for the background, now for the questions:
> * Does anyone have any comments on which reading of BNYK is preferable
>   or probable, sons or Builder? Which did Isaiah (and the Holy Spirit) 
>   have in mind when writing the text?

 Dear Tony,

 The LXX translators evidently understood "thy sons" at this point:

 Westcott & Hort made a rule that of there is a choice of two readings in any
 context, then the more "difficult" reading is to be preferred, because it is
 more likely to have been "simplified" or "glossed" by a later scribe, than to
 have been made more obscure by a scribe.

 To me, this results in an editor making almost a perverse choice of text for
 the "original". The "more difficult" reading may be simply what we would call
 a "typo". The Massoretes had elaborate letter-counting techniques, the manual
 equivalent of "cyclical redundancy checks" that our computers use. That is
 why the Scribes are HaSSoPe:RiYM, the "counters".
> * Any thought about what motivations the scribes had for vocalising
> BNYK as "sons"?

 The attribution of motives is notoriously hazardous.

 Isaiah 62:5 is that glorious rarity, a Hebrew rhyming quatrain:
     KiY-YiB:`aL BaXuWR B:TuWLaH
        YiB:`aLuWK BaNaYiK        [athnach]
     uWM:&oW& XaTaN `aL-KaLLaH
        Ya&i& `aLaYiK 'e:LoHaYiK. [silluq & soph pasuq]

 The first part is the wedding; the second part the honeymoon.
 The subject of the prophecy is Zion, which is fem. sing.
 Zion will be "Married" instead of "Desolate", because her daughters will
 be married to her sons again; not married to God. Because God is delighted
 in her HeP:CiY-BaHh, he will allow her sons and daughters to be married
 to each other again.

> * Does the Builder reading require a majestic plural with the yodh, or
> is the yodh part of the lamed-he verb stem in the singular participle?

 In Psalm 147:2 we have the proper name YHWH as subject of the Qal Participle
 Active of BaNaH, BoWNeH Ye:Ru$aLaYiM YHWH. Here the BoWNeH is in Construct
 with Ye:Ru$aLaYiM, so the "e" is tsere, not seghol.
 The participial noun BoWNeH with the 2fs pronominal suffis ought to be
 BoWN:TeK, with the He hardening to a Taw (if I remember correctly?)
 I'll leave the B-Hebrew pundits to pontificate on this!

> It will be most interesting to hear your views on this matter.


 Revd Ben Crick BA CF, and Mrs Joanna (Goodwin) Crick
 <ben.crick at>
 232 Canterbury Road, Birchington, Kent, CT7 9TD (UK)

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