Isaiah 2:9 Humanity Will Be Humbled Part 1

Men bow down to them in homage, they lie flat on the ground in worship. Don’t spare them!

So the common man has been humbled and the man of importance has been abased, but do not forgive them.

Both of the above verses are Isaiah 2:9. The top version is a translation from New English Translation (NET) and the bottom is a translation from the New American Standard Bible (NASB). This is an example of where translators disagree. The NET is of the mind that man is worshipping idols. The NASB is of the mind that man is being humbled. So who is right?

In the original Hebrew, the subject is man. Note in the NASB, “common” is italicized. “Common” is not in the original text. The same is true with “of importance” in the NASB. It is not in the original Hebrew text.

The Hebrew word of action is “shachach”. Note how it is translated differently in the NET, “bow down”, versus the NASB, “humbled”. Grammatically, the word can be translated both ways as a niphal stem (a passive simple action).

The second word of action is “shaphel” (qal stem, simple and active verb).  It literally means to be or become low. See the difference in how these two verses are translated. NET says “lie flat” and NASB says “abased”.

These same two verbs, “shachach” and “shaphel”, are also noted later in Isaiah 2:11 and 2:17. In these verses, both of these verbs are qal stem (active simple action).

When it comes to the last part of the verse, the verb nasa’ is a qal stem. It could be translated one of three ways as a qal stem:

1a1) to lift, lift up
1a2) to bear, carry, support, sustain, endure
1a3) to take, take away, carry off, forgive

In the NET the verb is translated “don’t spare”. In the NASB the verb is translated “do not forgive”.

The context of Isaiah 2:9-22 is summarized by stating proud and great things are going to be humbled. Specifically, proud and arrogant humanity is going to be humbled.

Think about it, you be the translator.

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