Proper Translation of Isaiah 2:16?

Discussion in 'Bible Versions/Translations' started by franklinmonroe, May 21, 2007.

  1. franklinmonroe

    franklinmonroe
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    Isaiah 2:16 from the KJV --
    And upon all the ships of Tarshish, and upon all pleasant pictures.​
    What evidence can be provided to support the translation of "pictures" in this verse?

    The word translated "pictures" appears only this once in the entire Bible and is the Hebrew word sekiyah (Strong's #07914) which has a very dubious meaning of perhaps an image, a ship, or craft. It is from the root word Sekuw (Strong's #07906) from an unused root apparently meaning to surmount (also occurs only once in the OT, and is transliterated in the KJV as "Sechu" (equivalent of 'the watch-tower', evidently a place near Ramah with a great well).

    In context, the passage is about the pride and loftiness of humanity. Notice in particular the paralellism in the immediate verses preceding (Isaiah 2: 12-16)--
    For the day of the LORD of hosts [shall be] upon every [one that is] proud and lofty, and upon every [one that is] lifted up; and he shall be brought low:
    And upon all the cedars of Lebanon, [that are] high and lifted up, and upon all the oaks of Bashan,
    And upon all the high mountains, and upon all the hills [that are] lifted up,
    And upon every high tower, and upon every fenced wall,
    And upon all the ships of Tarshish, and upon all pleasant pictures.​
    Starting in verse 13 there are four dual examples of proud and lofty things: two trees (cedars and oaks), two land formations (mountains and hills), two fortifiied contructions (towers and walls); but then two disparate items: ships and pictures.

    The witness of the Septuagint (compiled from Brenton's 1851 Translation) is --
    and upon every ship of the sea, and upon every display of fine ships.​
    The word translated "ships" in this Septuagint rendering is the same (first singular, then plural) Greek word ploion (Strong's #4143) which does mean boat, a ship, or water vessel. A literal construction of the Septuagint (Apostle's Bible) has --
    and upon every boat of [the] sea, and upon every spectacle of boats of beauty.​
    Most modern versions complete the parallelism in verse 16 with "boats" or some similar reference to water craft (NKJV, NLT, NASB, NIV, ESV). The ASV somewhat uniquely has --
    and upon all the ships of Tarshish, and upon all pleasant imagery.​
    and along with Darby (below) could be construed as a description of attractively handcrafted ships? --
    and upon all the ships of Tarshish, and upon all pleasant works of art

    What was meant by "pictures" by the revisors of the Bishop's Bible in 1611?
    Webster's 1828 Dictionary defines the word thus--
    PIC'TURE, n. [L. pictura, from pingo, to paint.]

    1. A painting exhibiting the resemblance of any thing; a likeness drawn in colors.
    Pictures and shapes are but secondary objects.
    2. The words of painters; painting.
    Quintilian, when he saw any well expressed image of grief, either in picture or sculpture, would usually weep.
    3. Any resemblance or representation, either to the eye or to the understanding. Thus we say, a child is the picture of his father; the poet has drawn an exquisite picture of grief.​

    Would the Hebrew poet have written a word meaning "pictures"? What might "pictures" have meant to the ancient Hebrew readers?
     
    #1 franklinmonroe, May 21, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: May 21, 2007
  2. Scarlett O.

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    Clarke's commentary says that this is referring to works of art or invention. I don't know if I agree or not.

    But I do agree with Clarke's metaphorical interpretation.
    • cedars of Lebanon/oaks of Bashan = kings, princes, and potentates
    • high mountians/hill = kingdoms, cities, states
    • high towers/fenced walls = counsel, strength, might
    • ships of Tarshish/pictures = wealth from commerce, luxury, gain
    And I believe the main "kick" is in verse 17. "And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low: and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day."

    I can't really help you here, but here are some other translations/versions to consider.

    NIV - "...for every trading ship and every stately vessel."

    NASB - "...Against all the ships of Tarshish And against all the beautiful craft"

    ASV - "...and upon all the ships of Tarshish, and upon all pleasant imagery."

    21st Century KJV -"...and upon all the ships of Tarshish, and upon all pleasant sights."

    AMP - "...And against all the ships of Tarshish and all the picturesque and desirable imagery [designed for mere ornament and luxury]"

    HCSB - "...against every ship of Tarshish, and against every splendid sea vessel."

    NLT - "...He will destroy all the great trading ships and every magnificent vessel."


     
  3. Rippon

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    That's a great amount of work there Franklin .

    In the Wycliffe Bible ( the first or second , I know not ) has ; and on alle schippis of Tharsis , and on al thing which is fair in siyt .

    The modern HCSB has "splendid sea vessel " .

    The NET text has : for all the large ships , for all the impressive ships .

    The NET notes say that the Hebrew equivalent for impressive means desirable .
     
  4. Salamander

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    The key is the explanation of "the ships of Tarshish": an extremely well built sea vessel with a high level of extravagance in it's detail and design when compared to the normal type of sea going vessel to the ideals found only in picturesque images of beauty and comeliness. IOW, not your ordinary fishing craft or a casual daydream.

    Then follow the design of the poet form that compares the latter phrase with the former: that which is extravagant compared to a similar thought identified with both phrases.
     
  5. franklinmonroe

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    So it seems we recognize the poetic paralellism. There is more of it earlier in this same chapter: in verse 4 "and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks"; in verse 7 their land is described as "full of silver and gold" and the near synonym of "treasures", and "horses" are closely balanced with "chariots". But the KJV rendering of "pictures" in verse 16 is not a clear parallel with "ship".
    I have not been able to locate information that collaborates this description of Tarshish ships. What are your sources?
     
  6. Salamander

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    Um, try following the context, it's all right there in front of the naked eye.

    What sort of ships would you think King Solomon to have?

    He sent these ships to locate and bring back the most expensive wares available in thise days.

    I did a simple Google search on "ships of Tarshish" and found all sorts of info.

    But I related some of my Bible college teaching into this conversation. Guess I made a mistake?:laugh:
     
  7. franklinmonroe

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    The verse under discussion is from the second chapter of Isaiah. The book of Isaiah states at its beginning which kings are involved (no Solomon listed in 1:1) --
    The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, [and] Hezekiah, kings of Judah.​
    Those kings came much later. Anyway, Chapter 2 specifically is a future prophecy (notice reference to "last days" in 2:1-2) --
    The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
    And it shall come to pass in the last days, [that] the mountain of the LORD'S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.​
    Where does it state in the scriptures that these ships in verse 16 belong to King Solomon?

    Me too. Lots of 'stuff', but I found nothing among the more promising 'hits' that were even remotely similar to the ships you described.
    So, you don't have any objective evidence that can be verified?
     
    #7 franklinmonroe, May 24, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: May 24, 2007
  8. Salamander

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    The evidence is all right there according to context.

    Metaphorical descriptions by comparison of other items related to one another are to remain in harmony to make the poetic form to stay intact.

    Solomon's ships of Tarshish were certainly extravagant and built sturdy enough ot exist for centuries, thus the referencing them is adequate to say the least in a description of prosperity; so much they were above comparison to what is found in the blessings of God than men can picture in their dreams.

    What was built under the blessings of God is certainly better than anything built to the honour of men.

    Notice also that these ships' construction must have been far above the average shipbuilders ability since none other ships were able to go the distances of the ships of Tarshish to have brought back the items they brought to the land.

    Maybe you think the Holy Ghost inspired Isaiah to pen something of this magnitude down so later men could underestimate its importance and relevence to the last days? I dunno, I just dunno.:praying:
     
  9. robycop3

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    Loox as if ya believe the Holy Spirit inspired some Englishmen of 400 years ago to write "pictures" for the Hebrew "sĕkiyah", which seemsta pertain to a SHIP , although its meaning is quite obscure. There's a Hebrew word, "maskiyth", used for 'pictures' in Numbers 33:52. The rendering of "sĕkiyah" as "pictures" in Isaiah is dubious at best. And "picture" had the same meaning as a noun in 1611 as it has now.
     
  10. Deacon

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    My Latin isn't up to measure but I believe that the early English translators borrowed the meaning of the obscure word from the Latin Vulgate.

    Latin Vulgate (425)
    16 et super omnes naves Tharsis et super omne quod visu pulchrum est

    Douay-Rheims Bible [a translation from the Vulgate] (1609–10)
    16 And upon all the ships of Tharsis, and upon all that is fair to behold.

    The Wycliffe Bible (1395)
    16 and on alle schippis of Tharsis, and on al thing which is fair in siyt.

    Miles Coverdale Bible (1535)
    16 vpon all shippes of the see, and vpon euery thinge yt is glorious and pleasaunt to loke vpon.

    The Bishop's Bible (1568)
    16 And vpon all the shippes of Tharsis, and vpon all pictures of pleasure.

    The Geneva Bible (1587)
    16 And vpon* all the shippes of Tarshish, and vpon all pleasant pictures.
    (*) He condemns their vain confidence which they had in strongholds and in their rich merchandise which brought in vain pleasures with which men’s minds became effeminate.

    Rob
     
    #10 Deacon, May 26, 2007
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  11. Deacon

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    I actually love the ESV’s rendition of this verse for it plays with the ambiguity of the word.

    against all the ships of Tarshish, and against all the beautiful craft.
    Isaiah 2:16 ESV

    craft
    1. to make or produce with care, skill, or ingenuity
    2. a boat esp. of small size
    Merriam-Webster, (2003).

    Rob
     
  12. Salamander

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    Explain the metaphorical phrase without the bias against the KJB and its translators.

    If you understand the sailor's mindset in his ability to "picture" you'll only clip the tip of the iceberg.

    What amazes me is how one will address something so poetically superior and attempt to kill it by the letter of the law.

    Instead of always suspecting the translators of dubious acts try to look at the glass as half full. (but then you'd have to use that metaphor to understand optimism verses pessimisms.)

    I thnik you're being very close minded on this one roby
     
  13. Salamander

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    Then this would fit the context and be in perfect harmony with "pictures" in the same respect that the LORD exposes the motive of all men's witty inventions.

    Don'tcha just love the way the word of God comes alive when looked at with an open mind!
     
  14. Mexdeaf

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    Yes, God can be quite crafty when He desires to be so.
     
  15. robycop3

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    Salamander:Explain the metaphorical phrase without the bias against the KJB and its translators.

    I DID explain it without bias against anyone...CORRECTLY, free of imagination as much as possible.

    If you understand the sailor's mindset in his ability to "picture" you'll only clip the tip of the iceberg.

    I was in the NAV 4 years myself. I know our ships are a far cry from the corks used in BC days, but when you're out in the middla the ocean with nary a bird or specka land in sight, one's imagination can become quite fanciful. But we're talking about GOD'S WORD, & not the musings of a sailor at sea.


    What amazes me is how one will address something so poetically superior and attempt to kill it by the letter of the law.

    Well, I'd rather have CORRECTNESS that doesn't rhyme rather than any poetry that's incorrect.

    Instead of always suspecting the translators of dubious acts try to look at the glass as half full. (but then you'd have to use that metaphor to understand optimism verses pessimisms.)

    I'd rather see the glass as COMPLETELY FULL cuz it IS completely full. And I don't suspect the translators of any dubious acts which would be deliberate...they were men, same as us, & thus not perfect. They blew it here & there, same as every other translator has done.

    I thnik you're being very close minded on this one roby

    Why should I open my mind to receive anything else when I KNOW I have what's correct? If mu cup is full, adding more to it will make "my cup runneth over". David never did tell us who cleaned the mess up.
     
    #15 robycop3, May 26, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: May 26, 2007
  16. Salamander

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    The entire passage is dealing with all the things a man holds precious in his sight and posessions. God will do away with all those things even to the point of all that a man could imagine. For what purpose you may ask? To PROCLAIM there is none more beautiful, more precious, more spectacular than the LORD God Almighty.

    Pictures equal imaginations and rememberences of actual sights.

    I think the KJB has all the bases of the closed mind, the open mind, and the prejudiced mind COVERED!

    That is just loud speaking for clarity for those who are so concerned.:sleeping_2:
     
  17. franklinmonroe

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    It is a common practice among mendacious people to attempt to obscure the implausiblity of their assertions by being loud.
     
  18. EdSutton

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    :laugh: :laugh:

    But I should really post this smilie!

    :tear:

    Ed
     
  19. franklinmonroe

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    The OP asked: What evidence can be provided to support the translation of "pictures" in this verse? --
    And upon all the ships of Tarshish, and upon all pleasant pictures. (Isaiah 2:16, KJV)​
    Salamander wrote --
    I agree with his above statement, but I have not been convinced that the English word "pictures" satisfies the requirement of being "related", particularly when viewed beside the other parallelisms. Here are the actual pairs used in this portion of Isaiah 2 (KJV) --
    swords, spears
    plowshares, pruninghooks
    silver & gold, treasures
    horses, chariots
    cedars, oaks
    mountains, hills
    tower, wall
    ships, pictures
    "Ships" and "pictures" certainly stands as the least related pair. Salamander under this topic has referred to "pictures" with the following words or phrases --
    the ideals found only in picturesque images of beauty and comeliness
    not... a casual daydream
    dreams
    the sailor's mindset
    imaginations and rememberences of actual sights​

    According to Sal's descriptions of the word, "pictures" is not a physical item outside the dreamer. But the only definition for "picture" from Webster's 1828 Dictionary that could potential fit this context is --
    3. Any resemblance or representation, either to the eye or to the understanding.​
    These examples then follow: "Thus we say, a child is the picture of his father; the poet has drawn an exquisite picture of grief."

    A child is a physical human individual that can be touched, seen, heard, etc. then compared to another physical human individual (the father). A poem can be words either heard or read (seen) and conveys an emotional message that can be witnessed in other persons from their outward physical reactions. "Picture" means that the author/artist's representation must communicate to another hearer/viewers' mind. None of Salmander's "imaginations" or "dreams" are tactile, visual, or audible (occurring only vaguely within the dreamer's mind) and therefore are not legitimate descriptions by definition of what the word "picture" means.

    So far no objective or verifiable evidence has been demonstrated that would support "pictures" as the best possible translation here.
     
    #19 franklinmonroe, May 30, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: May 30, 2007
  20. franklinmonroe

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    Since the focus had been on "picture", there had been no discussion regarding the word "sea" in the Greek where the proper noun "Tarshish" stands in the Hebrew. But, if as Salamander suggests the key is the explanation of "the ships of Tarshish", it may be crucial to understanding how "picture" is a proper translation.
    In Daniel 10:6 the Septuagint also reads "his mouth was like the sea" where the Hebrew has tarshiysh (Strong's #8658) which refers to a precious stone or gem (perhaps a chrysolite, yellow jasper, or other yellow coloured stone).
    Additionally, the Aramaic Targum has for Isaiah 2:16 --
    And upon all those who go down in ships of the sea, and upon all those that dwell in palaces of beauty​
    David P. Wright wrote in an essay that the term "Tarshish" is translated as "sea" many times in the Targum. Instead of "Tarshish" it has "sea" (yamma, Ezekiel 27:12; Jonah 1:3 & 4:2). More importantly, in Isaiah "Tarshish" is rendered as "sea" at every occurrence. Clearly, the Targum is interpreting "Tarshish" as "sea."

    Deacon had previously posted Miles Coverdale Bible (1535) --
    vpon all shippes of the see, and vpon euery thinge yt is glorious and pleasaunt to loke vpon.​
    John Wesley comments on Isaiah 2:16 in his Explanatory Notes Upon the Old Testament (1765)
    V. 16 Tarshish—The ships of the sea, as that word is used, Psal. xlviii. 7. whereby you fetched riches from the remote parts of the world.​

    William Lowth's Commentary Upon the Old and New Testaments: The Prophets (1727)--
    ... 'ships of Tarshish' signify in Scripture any trading or merchant ships. Accordingly, here the Septuagint render the words, 'ships of the sea,' as our old English translation does, Psal. xlviii 6.​
    Here "our old English translation" appears to refer to the Coverdale Bible. The phrase "ships of the sea" was not obscure, but was rather relatively well known. "Ships of tarshish" (or sea) merely disguishes these merchant vessels from smaller boats, nothing more.
     
    #20 franklinmonroe, May 30, 2007
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