Nahum 1:7 yada yada
I received a request to write about Nahum 1:7 today, with reference to the difference between the original Tyndale tradition and other translations.
- The LORD is good,
a stronghold in the day of trouble;
he knows those who take refuge in him. ESV
- The Lord is good,
a stronghold in a day of trouble;
he protects those who take refuge in him, NRSV
Here is how the different Bible versions translate ידע in Nahum 1:7.
- know KJV, ESV, NASB, JPS, D-R, CEV
- is close to NLT
- protects, cares for (T)NIV, NRSV, NET, HCSB, NAB, GNT
All Bible versions are working from the same Hebrew text, and from the same lexical understanding. However, ידע is a word with a broader semantic range in Hebrew than "know" has in English. The Koehler-Baumgartner lexicon mentions,
- observe, realize
- find out, experience
- recognize, perceive
- care about, be concerned about
- get to know, become acquainted with
- have intercourse with
- care about, be concerned with (theologically)
- select, choose
- know, come to understand
- know, have insight, judgement
וַיַּעֲזֹב כָּל-אֲשֶׁר-לוֹ, בְּיַד-יוֹסֵ
, וְלֹא-יָדַע אִתּוֹ מְאוּמָה
, כִּי אִם-הַלֶּחֶם אֲשֶׁר-הוּא אוֹכֵל
And he left all that he had in Joseph's hand;
and, having him, he knew not aught
save the bread which he did eat. Gen. 39:6 JPS
Of course, the Hebrew is able to delightfully say that Potiphar puts everything in Joseph's yad (hand) and now he doesn't have to yada (know)! Or Potiphar puts everything in Joseph's care and now he doesn't have to care. (I wish I knew how Alter translates this.)
For Gen. 39:6 the following translations now translate ידע as "have concern for" or a synonym. (T)NIV, ESV, NASB, HCSB, CEV. However, as noted above, many translations have not made the change for Nahum 1:7. Is this simply an oversight rather than a disagreement? I would guess that it simply was not a concern - there is no theological issue at stake here.
So far, I have given just the short answer. The NET Bible notes point to a more detailed background and explicitly favours the sense "protect".
- When the subject is a king (suzerain) and the object is a servant (vassal), it often has covenantal overtones. In several ancient Near Eastern languages this term depicts the king (suzerain) recognizing his treaty obligation to protect and rescue his servant (vassal) from its enemies. For example, a letter from Abdi-Ashirta governor of Ammuru to the Egyptian king Amenophis III ends with a plea for protection from the raids of the Mittani: “May the king my lord know [= protect] me” (yi-da-an-ni; EA 60:30-32). Similarly, in the treaty between Muwattallis and Alaksandus, the Hittite suzerain assures his vassal that in case he was attacked, “As he is an enemy of you, even so he is an enemy to the Sun; I the Sun, will know [= “protect”] only you, Alaksandus” (see H. B. Huffmon, “The Treaty Background of Hebrew YADA`,” BASOR 181 (1966): 31-37; idem, “A Further Note on the Treaty Background of Hebrew YADA`,” BASOR 184 (1966): 36-38.
And so, belatedly, I turned to Rotherham and found,
- Good is Yahweh,
as a protection in the day of distress, -
and one who acknowledgeth them who seek refuge in him.
Nahum 1:7 Emphasized Bible (Rotherham)
There is no such thing as a 'transparent' Bible, but I often think, there is such a thing as a 'translucent' Bible, a Bible that lets more light shine through. For me that is Rotherham's, an extraordinary translation. If you are thirsty for a translucent Bible, try Rotherham.
Labels: Rotherham concordance