Translating from an ancient language on ancient manuscripts to a modern language can create difficulties. Not having the word separation and the punctuation of today’s written communication adds to the difficulties. This essay gives one example where the problems of transferring an ancient message to the modern idiom are manifested.
The passage is Isaiah 10: 27, in which there is a prophecy of the taking into captivity of the children of Israel by the Assyrians and of their eventual release. It would be well to read a few verses before it and a few verses after it to set the passage into its context.
Eighteen versions are listed here. As you read each translation, note the reason for the removal or the destruction of the yoke. Try to fit this into the context of the verse. You will note that some versions omit this part of the verse. Following this list is a breakdown of the ways in which this ending is translated.
- AB – Amplified Bible
- DHB – Darby Holy Bible
- HBME – The Holy Bible in Modern English
- KJV – King James Version
- KTC – Knox Translation
- LB – Living Bible
- LBP – Lamsa Bible
- LXX – Septuagint
- MNT – Moffatt New Translation
- NBV – New Berkeley Version
- NCV – New Century Version
- NIV – New International Version
- NJB – New Jerusalem Bible
- NJPS – New JPS Version
- NKJ – New King James Version
- NRS – New Revised Standard Version
- TEV – Today’s English Version
- YLR – Young’s Literal Translation, Revised Edition
Isaiah 10: 27
AB – And it shall be in that day that the burden of the Assyrian shall depart from off your shoulder, and his yoke from off your neck. The yoke shall be destroyed because of fatness [which prevents it from longer going around the neck]. [Deut. 32:15]
DHB – And it shall come to pass in that day, [that] his burden shall be shall be taken away from off thy shoulder, and his yoke from off thy neck; and the yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing….
Footnote: Lit. ‘oil.’
HBME – And on that day his load shall be rolled off your shoulder,
And his yoke from your neck, and the yoke chafe be healed.
KJV – And it shall come to pass in that day, that his burden shall be taken from off thy shoulder, and his yoke from off thy neck, and the yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing.
KTC – And with that, thy shoulder will be eased of the burden, the yoke will fall from thy neck, yoke that has gone rotten for want of oil.
Footnote: Literally ‘from the face of oil.’ If the text is sound, it seems necessary to interpret the phrase as meaning ‘away from,’ ‘deprived of’ oil, not in its usual sense, ‘as the result of.’
LB – On that day God will end the bondage of his people. He will break the slave-yoke off their necks, and destroy it as decreed.
Footnote: Literally, “because of ointment.” Some see here a reference to the Messiah, the Anointed One.
LBP – And it shall come to pass in that day that his burden shall be taken away from off your shoulder and his yoke from off your neck, and the yoke shall be destroyed from your neck because of your strength.
LXX – And it shall come to pass in that day, that his yoke shall be taken away from thy shoulder, and his fear from thee, and the yoke shall be destroyed from off your shoulders.
MNT – Then from your shoulders shall Assyria’s load be shifted,
and from your neck his yoke shall then be lifted.
Assyria is on the march from Rimmon, … .
NBV – In that day his burden shall be lifted from your shoulder and his yoke from your neck; the yoke shall be broken off because of ointment.
Footnote: Divine anointing and calling.
NCV – Then the troubles that Assyria puts on you
will be removed,
and the load they make you carry
will be taken away.
NIV – In that day their burden shall be lifted from your shoulders,
their yoke from your neck;
the yoke will be broken
because you have grown so fat.
NJB – When that day comes,
his burden will fall from your shoulder,
and his yoke from your neck,
and the yoke will be destroyed . . .
NJPS – And in that day,
His burden shall drop from your back,
And his yoke from your neck;
The yoke shall be destroyed because of fatness.
NKJ – It shall come to pass in that day
That his burden will be taken away from your shoulder,
And his yoke from your neck,
And the yoke will be destroyed because of the anointing oil.
NRS – On that day his burden will be removed from your shoulder, and his yoke will be destroyed from your neck.
He has gone up from Rimmon, … .
Footnote: Heb. and his yoke from your neck,and a yoke will be destroyed because of fatness.
TEV – When that time comes, I will free you from the power of Assyria, and their yoke will no longer be a burden on thy shoulders.
Footnote: Hebrew has three additional words, the meaningof which is unclear.
YLR – And it shall come to pass, in that day,
Turned is his burden from off thy shoulder,
And his yoke from off thy neck,
And destroyed hath been the yoke, because of Prosperity.
Reasons for the removal or the destruction of the yoke and the number of versions using them:
- Anointing = 5
- Fat = 3
- Fatness = 8
- Healed = 1
- Oil = 3
(One listed under oil also includes the word ‘anointing’.)
- Ointment = 1
- Prosperity = 1
- Strength = 1
- Omitted, but containing the rest of the verse = 12
- Whole verse omitted by Abbreviated Bible = 3