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Isaiah 66:18-21

Context
66:18 “I hate their deeds and thoughts! So I am coming 1  to gather all the nations and ethnic groups; 2  they will come and witness my splendor. 66:19 I will perform a mighty act among them 3  and then send some of those who remain to the nations – to Tarshish, Pul, 4  Lud 5  (known for its archers 6 ), Tubal, Javan, 7  and to the distant coastlands 8  that have not heard about me or seen my splendor. They will tell the nations of my splendor. 66:20 They will bring back all your countrymen 9  from all the nations as an offering to the Lord. They will bring them 10  on horses, in chariots, in wagons, on mules, and on camels 11  to my holy hill Jerusalem,” says the Lord, “just as the Israelites bring offerings to the Lord’s temple in ritually pure containers. 66:21 And I will choose some of them as priests and Levites,” says the Lord.

1 tc The Hebrew text reads literally “and I, their deeds and their thoughts, am coming.” The syntax here is very problematic, suggesting that the text may have suffered corruption. Some suggest that the words “their deeds and their thoughts” have been displaced from v. 17. This line presents two primary challenges. In the first place, the personal pronoun “I” has no verb after it. Most translations insert “know” for the sake of clarity (NASB, NRSV, NLT, ESV). The NIV has “I, because of their actions and their imaginations…” Since God’s “knowledge” of Israel’s sin occasions judgment, the verb “hate” is an option as well (see above translation). The feminine form of the next verb (בָּאָה, baah) could be understood in one of two ways. One could provide an implied noun “time” (עֵת, ’et) and render the next line “the time is coming/has come” (NASB, ESV). One could also emend the feminine verb to the masculine בָּא (ba’) and have the “I” at the beginning of the line govern this verb as well (for the Lord is speaking here): “I am coming” (cf. NIV, NCV, NRSV, TEV, NLT).

2 tn Heb “and the tongues”; KJV, NASB, NIV, NRSV “and tongues.”

3 tn Heb “and I will set a sign among them.” The precise meaning of this statement is unclear. Elsewhere “to set a sign” means “perform a mighty act” (Ps 78:43; Jer 32:20), “make [someone] an object lesson” (Ezek 14:8), and “erect a [literal] standard” (Ps 74:4).

4 tn Some prefer to read “Put” (i.e., Libya).

5 sn That is, Lydia (in Asia Minor).

6 tn Heb “drawers of the bow” (KJV and ASV both similar).

7 sn Javan is generally identified today as Greece (so NIV, NCV, NLT).

8 tn Or “islands” (NIV).

9 tn Heb “brothers” (so NIV); NCV “fellow Israelites.”

10 tn The words “they will bring them” are supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.

11 tn The precise meaning of this word is uncertain. Some suggest it refers to “chariots.” See HALOT 498 s.v. *כִּרְכָּרָה.



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