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

Polycarp66 at Polycarp66 at
Sun Jul 7 21:02:40 EDT 2002

In a message dated 7/7/2002 9:58:40 AM Eastern Daylight Time, 
tony.larsson at writes:

> * Does anyone have any comments on which reading of BNYK is preferable
>   or probable, sons or Builder? Which did Isiah (and the Holy Spirit) 
>   have in mind when writing the text?
> * Any thought about what motivations the scribes had for vocalising BNYK
>   as "sons"?

As Ben has noted, the very letters of the text were counted by the scribes to 
determine if the text were being copied correctly.  This applies only to the 
consonants, however, and says nothing regarding how it might have been 
understood to be vocalized.

As was stated, it is also true that the more difficult reading (lectio 
difficilior) is generally to be preferred.  This can be carried to an extreme 
though.  No reading can be accepted which makes absolutely no sense. Dahood 
has shown, despite some overambitious examples, a text may be 
incomprehensible only because we do not have sufficient knowledge of the 
Hebrew language due to the limited texts which we possess.  Both of these 
facts urge caution in making emendations or in simply accepting the received 
text.  We are on much more uncertain ground than is the case in the N.T. with 
its relative abundance of contemporary Greek writings and must therefore be 
more tenative.  

The passage must be understood in the context of the whole of either Second 
Isaiah or Trito-Isaiah.  This is dependent upon whether you acknowledge 
Trito-Isaiah as being a separate work from Deutero-Isaiah.  There are some 
problems with the assertion of a Trito-Isaiah.  If only a Deutero-Isaiah is 
acknowledged, it begins with the famous passage of Is 40 "Comfort, comfort my 
people . . ."  This announces the return of the nation from captivity.  It 
proclaims the restoration.  Israel is to march across the desert in a second 
exodus (or is the second really the first?).

In this regard BNYK would refer to "children", not specifically to sons (see 
BDB s.v BeN #2).  This would refer to those who would inhabit Jerusalem.  If 
it had been referring to dependent cities, they are generally referred to as 
BfNoWT (daughters).  They will espouse Jerusalem by again inhabiting it.  
Understood in this sense it is perfectly understandable and forms a good 

I might quote the JPS TANAK translation

5 As a youth espouses a maiden,
Your sons shall espouse you;
And as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride,
So will your God rejoice over you.


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