[b-hebrew] Isaiah 64:4

Harold R. Holmyard III hholmyard at ont.com
Tue Aug 31 14:37:53 EDT 2004


Dear Sujata,

>I did mean Is 64:4 in the English Bible and my
>question particularly is about the phrase "O God". In
>KJV I have "O God" in NKJV and others I have "A God",
>in JPS (Is 64:3) "A God" and in the Qumran scroll
>translation "O God". So I am wondering what is the
>exact translation from Hebrew, is it "a God" or "O
>God".

HH: Although the KJV has "O God," it is interesting that the NKJV, 
which tried to preserve all it could of the KJV, has, as you say:

4 For since the beginning of the world Men have not heard nor 
perceived by the ear, Nor has the eye seen any God besides You, Who 
acts for the one who waits for Him.

HH: This is also the way that the NRSV, NIV, NLT, NASB. Amplified, 
HCSB, ESV, and CEV translated the verse. Perhaps the KJV was 
motivated by a desire to conform the translation to Paul's wording in 
1 Cor 2:9:

1Cor. 2:9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, 
neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath 
prepared for them that love him.

HH: Paul's words might not be a citation of Isa 64:4, but if they 
are, they could be a paraphrase, even with the introductory "but as 
it is written." I think the KJV translation is probably incorrect. 
The word "God" is in the natural place for a verb object to stand. 
Also the KJV has to supply the word "what," since there is nothing in 
Hebrew corresponding to it. One would expect a word like )$R ("what") 
in Hebrew if KJV were on the right track. Also the grammatical 
agreement is odd in the KJV:

KJV: Is. 64:4 For since the beginning of the world men have not 
heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, 
beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him.

HH: The KJV has Isaiah addressing God in the second person to speak 
about Him in the third person. And one may even ask what the function 
of "beside thee" is in the KJV. If no one has seen what He hath 
prepared, and Isaiah tells this to God, what does "beside thee" mean? 
However, if no one has seen a God, then "beside thee" fits 
beautifully.

HH: One could say that there is no Hebrew word in Isa 64:4 
corresponding to "who" either, but the pronoun implied in the verbal 
form Y(&H ("he prepared") can provide an understood "who."

					Yours,
					Harold Holmyard 


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