Isaiah 9:3 KJB - "Thou hast multiplied the nation, and NOT increased the joy."
NKJV (ESV, NIV, NASB, NET, Catholic St. Joseph NAB & Catholic New Jerusalem bible) - "You have multiplied the nation and increased its joy."
Jehovah Witness New World Translation - "You have made the nation populous; for it you HAVE MADE THE REJOICING GREAT."
In Isaiah 9:3 we a case before us where most of the modern versions, including the NKJV, NIV, ESV, NASB and the modern Catholic versions depart from the standard Hebrew Masoretic text.
The Hebrew consonantal text reads “You multiply the nation, you do NOT make great the joy.” The marginal reading has לוֹ (lo, “to him”). It is written לֹא, [spelled ‘lammed aleph,’ meaning ‘not’] Many modern versions have followed the marginal reading instead of the textual reading of the Hebrew text.
In the King James Bible we read: "Thou hast multiplied the nation, and NOT increased the joy."
This is also the reading found in Wycliffe 1395, Coverdale 1535, the Great Bible 1540 - "Thou hast multyplyed the people, & NOT increased their ioye", Matthew's Bible 1549, the Bishops' Bible 1568, the Geneva Bible of 1599 - "Thou hast multiplied the nation, and NOT increased their ioye", the Douai-Rheims Bible 1610, The Bill Bible 1671, Webster's Bible 1833, The Longman Version 1841, The Calvin Version 1856, The Smith Bible 1876 - "and NOT increased the joy", The Revised English Bible 1877, the Douay Version 1950, The Word of Yah 1993, Green's interlinear Hebrew 2000, The KJV 21st Century Version 1994, the Third Millennium Bible 1998, Green's Literal 2005, The Revised Geneva Bible 2005, The Ancient Roots Translinear Bible 2008 - "but the joy never grew", Bond Slave Version 2009, the English Jubilee Bible 2010 "and NOT increased the joy", The Holy Scriptures VW Edition 2010 - "and NOT increased the joy", The New European Version 2010 - "You have multiplied the nation, but You have NOT increased their joy.", The Work of God's Children Illustrated Bible 2011, Biblos Interlinear Bible 2011 - "NOT increased the joy", the BRG Bible 2012, the Lexham English Bible of 2012 - "You have made the nation numerous; you have NOT made the joy great.", The Revised Douay-Rheims Bible 2012, and the Hebraic Roots Bible 2012 - "you have NOT increased its joy".
The Fenton Bible 1966 made it into a question - "have you NOT increased its joy?"
as did God's First Truth 1999 - "Shall you multiply the people, and NOT increase the joy also?"
Foreign language Bibles
Foreign language Bibles that follow the Hebrew Masoretic TEXT and not the marginal reading, and say "and NOT increased the joy" are the Latin Vulgate of 382 A.D. - "multiplicasti gentem non magnificasti laetitiam", Luther's German Bible 1545 - "Du machest der Heiden viel, damit machest du der Freuden nicht viel.", the Spanish Versión Antigua of 1569 and the Spanish Reina Valera of 1602 and the 2004 Reina Valera Gómez Bible - "Aumentando la gente, NO aumentaste la alegría.", the Dutch Staten Vertaling Bible, the Russian Synodal Version 1876 - " Ты умножишь народ, увеличишь радость его. Он будет веселиться пред Тобою" = "NOT increased the joy of it", the Romanian Fidela Bible 2014 - "Tu ai înmulţit naţiunea şi nu ai mărit bucuria" = "you multiplied the nation and NOT increased the joy"
and The Modern Hebrew Bible also reads this way - " הרבית הגוי לא הגדלת השמחה שמחו לפניך כשמחת בקציר כאשר יגילו בחלקם שלל = "NOT increasing happiness"
You can see this Modern Hebrew Bible here.
And this Online Interlinear Hebrew Bible here - "Thou hast multiplied the nation; NOT increased the joy"
Take the text to a translation site and you will see that it says "and NOT increased the joy"
The Catholic Connection
The Catholic versions do their usual trick. The older Catholic Douay-Rheims Bible of 1610 followed the Hebrew text and reads as does the KJB saying: "Thou hast multiplied the nation, and hast NOT increased the joy." So too does the 1950 Douay Version.
However in 1968 the Jerusalem bible, and again in the 1970 St. Joseph NAB and the 1985 New Jerusalem bible and the Jehovah Witness New World Translation now read as the other Vatican Versions like the RSV, NRSV, ESV, NIV, NASB and the NKJV and say "you have increased the joy".
But just so you don't get too confident the latest 2009 Catholic Public Domain Version has once again gone back to the Hebrew Masoretic text which reads: "You have increased the nation, but you have NOT increased the rejoicing." and so too does the 2012 Revised Douay-Rheims Bible.
Even Daniel Wallace, of the ever-changing NET version, admits - “The Hebrew consonantal text reads “You multiply the nation, you do NOT make great the joy.” He admits that this is the reading of the Hebrew text, but he says it doesn't make sense to him, (What a shocker!), and so he prefers the marginal reading instead.
The Spanish Reina Valera 1995 also footnotes that the Hebrew text reads "and NOT increased the joy".
Many modern day versions, including the Jehovah Witness New World Translation, the NKJV, NIV, ESV, NASB and most modern Catholic versions have all changed this to read: "You have multiplied the nation and increased its joy" - the exact opposite of the KJB.
Dr. Donald Waite Th.D., Ph.D., in his book Defending the King James Bible says "The editors of these new versions...often decide the issue on the basis of pure guesswork! But how do you know their decision is the the correct one? Just leave the Hebrew text as it is. The King James translators came along and saw what the Hebrew Masoretic text said and simply translated it right over into the English. They didn't quibble with it; they didn't try to harmonize it.
For instance, you'll find in Isaiah 9:3 that there is a "not" (LO) which has been completely eliminated by the new versions. The Scripture says, "Thou hast multiplied the nation, and NOT increased the joy..."and these new versions have just taken it out because they think it makes more sense. But the Hebrew says "not" and the KING JAMES translators simply wrote it down, faithfully as they ought to have done." - quoted from page 32.
Jamieson, Faussett and Brown's commentary on Isaiah 9:3 - "NOT increased the joy--By a slight change in the Hebrew, its (joy) is substituted by some for NOT, because "NOT increased the joy" seems opposite to what immediately follows, "the joy," Others, "Hast thou not increased the joy?" The very difficulty of the reading, NOT, makes it less likely to be an interpolation."
John Calvin likewise translates it as "and NOT increased the joy" and then adds these very revealing comments saying: "Thou hast multiplied. This passage is somewhat obscure, both in itself, and on account of the diversity of interpretations; for it appears to be absurd to say that the joy was not increased, seeing that he immediately afterwards adds, they rejoiced. On this account the Jews interpret al (lo) not negatively, but as if w (vau) had been substituted for a (aleph); for sometimes, though rarely, it has this meaning in the Scriptures. The Jews do this, because they cannot reconcile the words of the Prophet with their opinion."
Paul E. Kretzmann's Popular Commentary - "and NOT increased the joy, or, "to whom Thou didst not magnify the joy," the reference once more being to the time of great sorrow and distress under heathen conditions"
Matthew Poole's Commentary - "And NOT increased the joy; or, yet NOT increased their joy; which might very truly and fitly be said of the Jewish nation upon this occasion, partly because they did not rejoice in the conversion of the Gentiles, as they should have done, but murmured, and grieved, and stumbled at it; and partly because, through their perverseness and unbelief, that would be unto them an occasion of their utter ruin, the conversion of the Gentiles being attended with the rejection of the Jews."
Here we see that these men do not dispute the Hebrew reading of "Not", and in fact support the idea that it is the legitimate reading just because it seems so difficult to understand. They also note that because it doesn't make sense to some, that is why they have changed it.
Let me offer one very possible explanation of the passage in its immediate and prophetic context. Going back to the last half of chapter 8 and continuing in 9 we read of the judgment God is bringing upon rebellious Israel and of the blessing to be given to the Gentile nations.
In Isaiah 9: 2-4 we read: "The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined. 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. For thou hast broken the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, as in the day of Midian."
This section of Scripture is referred to in Matthew 4:12-16 when the Lord Jesus came into this same region and we are told "that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up."
So, when we go back to look at Isaiah 9:3 both historically and prophetically the part about "Thou hast multiplied the nation, and NOT increased the joy" refers to the nation of Israel. God had increased them to be a great number, but they were all far from God and had no joy in the Lord.
There is even a play on words found in verse 17 where God says: "Therefore the Lord shall have NO JOY in their young men, neither shall have mercy on their fatherless and widows: for every one is an hypocrite and and evildoer, and every mouth speaketh folly."
They "joy before thee according to the joy in harvest, and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil." They had a carnal joy in the riches of the material blessings God had given them, but they had no real joy in God Himself. They had turned to idols and were ripe for judgment.
Just because something doesn't seem to make sense to us is no reason to assume there is a scribal error or to change the text ourselves, as the NKJV and many others have done.
The King James Bible is right, as always, and the Bible Agnostics just can't stand it.
All of grace, believing the Book,
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