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

Peter Kirk Peter_Kirk at
Sun Jul 7 18:32:17 EDT 2002

Ben, I am more confused now that I have read the Hebrew text here. Why
is this translated as a pair of similes? There is no K- in either part
of the verb. I accept that KIY can mean something like "as", but surely
this is usually at least the causal "as", equivalent to "since" or
"because", rather than the "as" of comparison. And the normal rule would
be for each couplet to be translated not as a simile but as synonymous
parallelism. So, if we read "sons" rather than "builder", why isn't this
translated (at least in a rather literal version) as follows?

For the young man will marry the young woman,
    Your sons will marry you;
And (with) the rejoicing of a bridegroom over a bride
    Your God will rejoice over you.

This seems to be what the text says, even if there is an odd suggestion
of incest.

Ah, I see the reason now (though it is only justifiable in hindsight:
KJV and the English RV, which long predate the Qumran discoveries, have
the simile): BHS margin suggests the reading K.IB:(OL in place of
K.IY-YIB:(AL, quoting Qumran Isaiah A (does this actually read just
KB(L, anyone? Or is there even one yod?) and comparing LXX, Syriac and
Targum. And LXX has certainly made this into a comparison, as you quote.
But it is the same BHS, though without evidence, that suggests the
"builder" sense. I suspect that if we applied the same "harder reading"
rule we would prefer the MT, with KIY, to the amendment based on Qumran.

Peter Kirk

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Ben and Jo Crick [mailto:ben.crick at]
> Sent: 07 July 2002 22:30
> To: Biblical Hebrew
> Subject: Re: Your sons or your Builder? (Is 62:5)
> 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
> > the older translations to Swedish, my mother tongue), and is also
> > one that LXX has chosen, vocalising BNYK as BFNFYIK: (banayikh).
> >
> > However, the newest Swedish translation, Bibel 2000, translates this
> > "your Builder will marry you", a reading that is given in a footnote
> > the NIV as well as in the BHS apparatus (BONYK or BON"K), as the
> > is
> > called the Builder of Jerusalem in Ps 147:2.
> >
> > The latter reading seems to be a better match both for the
> > (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
> > 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
> >   or probable, sons or Builder? Which did Isaiah (and the Holy
> >   have in mind when writing the text?
>  Dear Tony,
>  The LXX translators evidently understood "thy sons" at this point:
>  [KTL]
>  Westcott & Hort made a rule that of there is a choice of two readings
> 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
> for
>  the "original". The "more difficult" reading may be simply what we
> call
>  a "typo". The Massoretes had elaborate letter-counting techniques,
> manual
>  equivalent of "cyclical redundancy checks" that our computers use.
> 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
>  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
>  to each other again.
> > * Does the Builder reading require a majestic plural with the yodh,
> > is the yodh part of the lamed-he verb stem in the singular
>  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
>  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.
>  Shalom
>  Ben
> --
>  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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