Friday, October 31, 2014

Isaiah 63:9: Qere and Kethib

In a world that is filled with pain and suffering, only an existent God who is capable of suffering/who has suffered makes sense to me:

"Through all that they suffered, he suffered too. The messenger sent from his very presence delivered them. In his love and mercy he protected them; he lifted them up and carried them throughout ancient times" (Isaiah 63:9, NET Bible).

tn Heb "in all their distress, there was distress to him" (reading לוֹ [lo] with the margin/Qere).-Footnote for Isa 63:9, NET Bible.

"In all their affliction he was afflicted] (lit. 'there was affliction to Him'). This is the sense of the Qĕrê, which substitutes lô (to him) for the lô’ (not) of the Kĕthîb (see on ch. Isaiah 9:3). It is impossible to obtain a good sense from the consonantal text; and it is accordingly rejected in favour of the Qĕrê by nearly all commentators" (Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges).


Duncan said...

One of the many problems with isaiah.

Duncan said...


For option 3 see:-

Duncan said...

See DSS Isaiah 24:3 a good example.

Edgar Foster said...

Thanks, Duncan, but I only see the translation of Isa 63:9 as a "problem" in the sense that it can be rendered one way or another according to the Hebrew text. However, I believe that the "problem" is easily solved as the NET Bible idicates along with numerous other commentators. As the Cambridge Bible says, nearly all commentators reject the Kethib reading in favor of the Qere which makes more sense.

Keil-Delitzsch likewise have a somewhat long note on this passage that is helpful. I'll quote part of it:

The next v. commemorates the way in which He proved Himself a Saviour in heart and action. “In all their affliction He was afflicted, and the Angel of His face brought them salvation. In His love and in His pity He redeemed them, and lifted them up, and bare them all the days of the olden time.” This is one of the fifteen passages in which the chethib has לא, the keri לו. It is only with difficulty that we can obtain any meaning from the chethib: “in all the affliction which He brought upon them He did not afflict, viz., according to their desert” (Targ., Jer., (Rashi)); or better still, as (tsâr) must in this case be derived from (tsūr), and (tsăr) is only met with in an intransitive sense, “In all their distress there was no distress” (Saad.), with which J. D. Michaelis compares 2 Corinthians 4:8, “troubled on every side, yet not distressed.” The oxymoron is perceptible enough, but the להם (צר לא), which is indispensable to this expression, is wanting. Even with the explanation, “In all their affliction He was not an enemy, viz., Jehovah, to them” (Döderlein), or “No man persecuted them without the angel immediately,” etc. (Cocceius and Rosenmüller), we miss להם or אתם. There are other still more twisted and jejune attempts to explain the passage with לא, which are not worth the space they occupy. Even in the older translators did not know how to deal with the לא in the text. The Sept. takes (tsăr) as equivalent to (tsı̄r), a messenger, and renders the passage according to its own peculiar interpunctuation: οὐ πρέσβυς οὐδὲ ἄγγελος ἀλλ ̓ αὐτὸς ἔσωσεν αὐτούς (neither a messenger nor an angel, but His face, i.e., He Himself helped them: Exodus 33:14-15; 2 Samuel 17:11). Everything forces to the conclusion that the keri לו is to be preferred. The Masora actually does reckon this as one of the fifteen passages in which לו is to be read for לא.

Duncan said...


"The verse as found in the Isaiah scroll supports either reading."

19th cent. Scholarship of course could not include information regarding DSS readings.

Duncan said...


I am not really arguing against your position, just pointing out the ongoing reaserch on more recent witness

"Textual Criticism
Scholars have recently been gifted with a new edition of the Isaiah scrolls from Qumran’sCave 1 (1QIsa
and IQIsa
), including new photographs, transcriptions, introductions,and notes by Eugene Ulrich and Peter Flint (2010). It is to be the final volume in theDiscoveries in the Judean Desert series. In a separate essay, Ulrich (2009) demonstratesagain that the book’s text was still in flux, albeit in minor ways, in the period of theQumran scroll’s copying. Armin Lange (2009) has shown that citations of Isaiah amongthe Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS) are drawn from very diverse textual traditions, dispelling the-ories that 1QIsa
is a sectarian edition of the book. Both the Great Isaiah Scroll and thePesher to Isaiah from Qumran continue to fuel interpretations of various kinds (seeBrooke 2006 as a starting point), and the Targums and Peshitta to Isaiah have alsoreceived attention"

Duncan said...


"To choose just one major theme, numerous scholars have written on the messianic tendencies of LXX Isaiah (Lust 1998; Reiterer 2006; Schaper 2006)."

Which as I claimed before is not true LXX (by definition) but a later 1st cent. CE translation.

These make me less confident of a solid position on a given reading. I am certainly not disagreeing with your stand due to other contextual factors that seem to fit in this instance.

Duncan said...

Regarding the LXX style Isaiah:-

Isa 63:9 εκ πασης θλιψεως αυτων ου πρεσβυς ουδε αγγελος αλλ΄ αυτος ο κυριος εσωσεν αυτους δια το αγαπαν αυτους και φειδεσθαι αυτων αυτος ελυτρωσατο αυτους και ανελαβεν αυτους και υψωσεν αυτους πασας τας ημερας του αιωνος

'The LXX put the first words of Isa 63:9 at the end of 63:8. The
phrase "in all their distress," which starts 63:9, became the end of
the sentence in 63:8. The LXX next chose the Kethib reading "not"
rather than the Qere "to Him" at the beginning of 63:9. It apparently
took the word "distress" as the noun "ambassador" ("elder") from the
Hebrew word CYR. This word appears without the middle Y at Isa 57:9.
They may have been influenced by that earlier verse and an un-pointed
text. The LXX interpreted "His face" (or "His presence") as "the Lord
Himself." The LXX took the perfect verb "saved" as a prophetic
perfect: "will save." It did the same thing with the following verbs.'

A Comment on the Qere:-,%22&source=bl&ots=RIMLzV6W4D&sig=RiaqM9BW0sMlCAQrVzlBr0KmMjE&hl=en&sa=X&ei=UfFZVMGzKdSS7Aa-4YHQDw&ved=0CCYQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=%22that%20the%20critical%20presumption%3A%20is%20in%20favor%20of%20the%20Kethib%2C%22&f=false

Duncan said...

Hello Edgar,

This is the latest info I have on this subject from ISBN 0800626877 pg58-64

"Most scholars now adhere to the first intermediate view described in
paragraph y. If that view is correct, most of the Ketib-Qere interchanges
should be understood as an ancient collection of variants. Indeed, for
many categories of Ketib-Qere interchanges similar differences are
known between ancient witnesses"

also pages 65-67 regarding the tiqqune sopherim.

"Moreover, for some corrections it is
improbable that the original text would indeed have read as the
Masorah claims. For example, Gen. Rab. 49.7, also included in the list
of the Masorah:
"The men went on from there to Sodom, while Abraham
remained standing before the LORD" (Gen 18:22 m and the other
witnesses). R. Simon said: "This is a correction of the scribes for
the Shekhinah was actually waiting for Abraham."
It is unlikely that the original text would have read "while the Lord
remained standing before Abraham," as claimed by the Masorah.
Even though the practice of correcting a text out of respect for a god
or gods is also known in the Hellenistic world,4 5 and although
corrections such as these were certainly inserted into the biblical text
(see pp. 264-275), the corrections of the scribes do not necessarily prove
the existence of such a practice. It should be noted, however, that a few
of the alleged original, uncorrected readings mentioned by the Masorah
are known as variants from other sources"

This is about all I can find on the subject & nothing is set in stone but it is a tricky one with no hard conclusions.