a strong post
Awake, awake,The wording "put on your strength" stood out to me as an unnatural combination of English words. In natural English we do not tell someone to "put on" various qualities, such as joy, wisdom, or strength. Instead, a natural way to translate the underlying Hebrew to English would be to express it as a command with a form of the verb "be" plus an adjective, such as "be strong".
put on your strength, O Zion!
Put on your beautiful garments,
O Jerusalem, the holy city
But as it is often pointed out about such "dynamic" translations, "be strong" is plain language. It lacks the poetic impact that was likely there in the original Hebrew. The following versions accurately translate the figurative meaning of the Hebrew for "put on your strength" but they are rhetorically flat:
Jerusalem, be strong and great again!So, is there a middle ground of some kind, where an English translation will be as close as possible to the wording of the biblical language text, retain its rhetorical impact (in this case, poetic), and still sound relatively natural or proper in English?
Holy city of God, clothe yourself with splendor! (TEV)
Jerusalem, wake up!
Stand up and be strong.
Holy city of Zion (CEV)
Wake up, wake up, Jerusalem!
Be beautiful again (NCV)
I think so. That middle ground is found in several English versions which use the metaphor of putting on clothing, a metaphor which already exists in Isaiah 52, in fact, in the very next clause of verse 1:
Awake, awake,Poetic effect, metaphor, idioms, sarcasm, irony, exaggeration, understatement, repetition, and other rhetorical tools are all important parts of language. If a translation language has the tools to communicate poetic and metaphorical effects, it is proper to use them. But translation wordings need to be ones which are capable of being understood by the speakers of that translation language. They can be newly coined in the language, as long as they can be understood.
Clothe yourself in your strength, O Zion;
Clothe yourself in your beautiful garments (NASB)
Awake, awake, O Zion,
clothe yourself with strength.
Put on your garments of splendor (NIV, TNIV)
Wake up! Wake up!
Clothe yourself with strength, O Zion!
Put on your beautiful clothes (NET)
Wake up! Wake up! Clothe yourself with strength, Zion!
Put on your beautiful clothes (GW)
Wake up, wake up, O Zion!
Clothe yourself with strength.
Put on your beautiful clothes (NLT)
I suspect that many, perhaps most, English speakers, can understand "put on your strength." But I suggest that they can understand with greater literary pleasure the more poetic "clothe yourself with strength."