Has God Increased Joy or Not? Isaiah 9-3

Isaiah 9:3

Parallel Translations

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NASB: You shall multiply the nation, You shall increase their gladness; they will be glad in Your presence as with the gladness of harvest, as men rejoice when they divide the spoil. (NASB ©1995)

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GWT: You will expand the nation and increase its happiness. It will be happy in your presence like those who celebrate the harvest or rejoice when dividing loot. (GOD'S WORD®)

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KJV: Thou hast multiplied the nation, and NOT increased the joy: they joy before thee according to the joy in harvest, and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil.

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ASV: Thou hast multiplied the nation, thou hast increased their joy: they joy before thee according to the joy in harvest, as men rejoice when they divide the spoil.

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BBE: You have made them very glad, increasing their joy. They are glad before you as men are glad in the time of getting in the grain, or when they make division of the goods taken in war.

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DBY: Thou hast multiplied the nation, hast increased its joy: they joy before thee like to the joy in harvest; as men rejoice when they divide the spoil.

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JPS: Thou hast multiplied the nation, Thou hast increased their joy; they joy before Thee according to the joy in harvest, as men rejoice when they divide the spoil.

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WBS: Thou hast multiplied the nation, and NOT increased the joy: they joy before thee according to the joy in harvest, and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil.

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WEB: You have multiplied the nation. You have increased their joy. They rejoice before You according to the joy in harvest, as men rejoice when they divide the spoil.

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YLT: Thou hast multiplied the nation, Thou hast made great its joy, They have joyed before Thee as the joy in harvest, As [men] rejoice in their apportioning spoil.

Dead Sea Scrolls Bible read “you have increased its joy.”

The Experiencing God Study Bible by Broadman and Holman on Isaiah 9:3 in the NKJV reads:

You have multiplied the nation And increased its joy; They rejoice before You Acccording to the joy of the harvest, As men rejoice when they divide the spoil.

Note: Vulgate read “not increase joy; Septuagint reads “Most of the people You brought down in Your joy.”

The New English Translation footnotes:

2 tc The Hebrew consonantal text reads “You multiply the nation, you do not make great the joy.” The particle לֹא (lo’, “not”) is obviously incorrect; the marginal reading has לוֹ (lo, “to him”). In this case, one should translate, “You multiply the nation, you increase his (i.e., their) joy.” However, the parallelism is tighter if one emends הַגּוֹי לוֹ (hagoy lo, “the nation, to him”) to הַגִּילָה (haggilah, “the joy,” a noun attested in Isa 65:18), which corresponds to הַשִּׂמְחָה (hasimkhah, “the joy”) later in the verse (H. Wildberger, Isaiah, 1:386). As attractive as this reading is, it has not textual evidence supporting it. The MT (Masoretic Text) reading (accepting the marginal reading “to him” for the negative particle “not”) affirms that Yahweh caused the nation to grow in population and increased their joy.

E.W. Bullinger’s Companion Bible (KJV) has the following marginal information on the verse:

“and not increased the joy. The difficulty is not remove by reading lo, “to him”, instead of l’o, “not” (which is the marginal reading of the Heb. Text, and is followed by the R.S. Dr. C.D. Ginsburg suggests that the word in question, haggil’o, was wrongly divided into two words, and the last syllable (l’o) was treated as a separate word. Read as one word, the four lines form an Introversion, thus:--

Thou hast multiplied the exultation,

Thou hast increased the joy:

They joy before Thee according to the joy in harvest,

And as men exult when they divide the spoil. Endquote from Companion Bible

Conclusion: The word “not” does not belong in the text. But that doesn’t necessarily change tradition. After all, “tradition” is often not concerned with “truth.” Case in point from a piece I pulled from a web site when I researched the discrepancy in Isaiah 9:3:

“I ran into something today on this topic... makes me wonder how much the "King James Only" proponents actually know...

“I do a lot of proofreading, including service sheets for my church. Today I was going over the Christmas Eve service in which our new priest chose to use KJV for the readings. I was puzzled to read Isaiah 9:3, "3: Thou hast multiplied the nation, and not increased the joy: they joy before thee according to the joy in harvest, and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil." That made no sense to me, so I asked the secretary if she had typed it and made an error; she said no, and called the priest in, who pulled out two copies of KJ Bibles, both of which said that; however, when we checked other translations, they said the opposite (RSV: "Thou hast multiplied the nation, thou hast increased its joy...).

“Well, she called another priest (who particularly knows this field) just to verify, and sure enough it's a mistake in translation in the KJV-- the "not" should not be there, and yet it appears in every copy in print. We corrected it in the service sheet, of course.” Endquote.

An amusing postscript to the discussion with the proofer, secretary and priest: the secretary ended up correcting the “not” but used the King James Version text. When asked why she said it was more beautiful to which the proofer and secretary said in unison “So it’s beauty over accuracy.” And the priest laughed and said, “Yes, I’m blond!”

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