Sarah Palin & Isaiah 3:12
God Does Raise Up Women Leaders!
By Publius Huldah
May a Christian vote for Sarah Palin? Amazingly, some in the Christian community say “No!”, because…..she is a woman!
Male supremacist Christians (they prefer the prettified word, “complementarians”) point to Isaiah 3:12 in King James’ version of the Bible (KJV) and triumphantly crow that this proves that “women in positions of authority are the curse of God and shows we are under Judgment of God.” And, King James’ version of Isaiah 3:12 does say:
As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths. [italics added]
Well, well! But we will analyze Isaiah 3:12 using Facts and Logic:
The renderings of Isaiah 3:12 in KJV (1611) and The Geneva Bible (1599) are similar; but KJV omits the Reformers’ Notes:
Because the wicked people were more addicted to their princes than to the commandments of God, he shows that he would give them such princes, by whom they would have no help, but they would be manifest tokens of his wrath, because they would be fools and effeminate. [spelling modernized & italics added]
Effeminate. The New Strong’s Concordance gives both ‘ishshah & nashiym as the Hebrew word translated “women” in the KJV of Isaiah 3:12; and says ‘ishshah is the feminine of ‘iysh, a man as a male person, or ‘enowsh, a mortal. Is this why the Reformers said, in their margin notes in The Geneva Bible, that Isaiah 3:12 referred to princes who were effeminate?
Now let us consider Strong’s tender of the Hebrew word, nashiym. The Old Testament was written in ancient Hebrew, a language which omitted vowels in writings. Thus, in translating words in ancient Hebrew, the question is always, “What vowel goes here?” To illustrate, look at the English word “p_t”. What vowel goes in the middle: a, e, i, o, or u? Do you see?
So! Look now at nashiym: Adam Clarke’s Commentary points out that only a vowel distinguishes “noshim” (usurers) from “nashim” (women), and thus Isaiah 3:12 might be rendered:
The collectors of grapes shall be their oppressors; and usurers (noshim, instead of nashim, women) shall rule over them….
So! What’s the correct vowel? “a”? Or is it “o”?
Well! Vowels were added to the Hebrew Scripture between the 6th to 10th centuries A.D. by the Masoretes, who were Jewish scholars at the Talmudic academies in Babylonia and Palestine. (See: Encyclopaedia Britannica Micropaedia, 15th ed., Vol. VI, p. 671). They are the ones who inserted an “a” instead of an “o”! What criteria did the Masoretes use in deciding which vowels to insert? Was their selection of “a” over “o” in n_shim guided by their hatred of women? WE DON’T KNOW! I expect male supremacists never gave this a thought. But the Masoretes’ vowel enriched version of the Hebrew Scripture was the basis of King James’ version of the Old Testament. And until the appearance in 1970 of the New English Bible’s completely new translation of the Old Testament (Oxford Univ. Press), the Masoretes’ version has dominated the field, most later English translations being mere revisions of the KJV.
Now look at the Hebrew word at Isaiah 3:12 which KJV translates as “children”: The Power Bible CD4.5 says `alal is the word (Strong’s #5953). However, `alal appears in 17 other verses in the Bible where it is rendered “wrought”, “glean”, “mock”, “abuse”, “defile”, “practice”, “done” or “affect”. Only in Isaiah 3:12 is `alal rendered “children”! Isn’t that odd. Was “children” chosen because it “fit” with “nashim”? (God’s Word To Women, by Dr. Katharine Bushnell, Lesson 77, paras 621& 622)
The New Strong’s Concordance handles it differently: Strong’s chose different Hebrew words for “children”: #5768, `owlel or `olal! So! Which is the “real” Hebrew word: `alal? `owlel? `olal? Change the vowels and can’t it be either? Other translators thought so:
The Peshitta (George M. Lamsa’s Translation) renders Isaiah 3:12:
The princes shall pluck my people out, and woman shall rule over them. O my people, your leaders have caused you to err, and disturbed the way of your paths.
The Vulgate (Douay translation) renders Isaiah 3:12:
As for my people, their oppressors have stripped them, and women have ruled over them. O my people, they that call thee blessed, the same deceive thee, and destroy the way of thy steps.
The Septuagint was translated into Greek from the original Hebrew during the 3rd & 2nd centuries B.C., 800 -1,300 years before the Masoretes inserted their selected vowels. (Encyclopaedia Britannica Micropaedia, 15th ed., Vol. IX, p. 63)
The Septuagint renders Isaiah 3:12 (The Apostolic Bible Polyglot, Translation of Charles Van der Pool):
O my people, your exactors (praktores) glean you, and the ones exacting (apaitountes) lord over you; O my people, the ones declaring you blessed mislead you, and the roads of your feet they disturb.
The Revised English Bible (REB) (Oxford Univ. Press, 1992), which consulted the Septuagint, renders Isaiah 3:12:
Moneylenders strip my people bare,
and usurers lord it over them.
My people, those who guide you are
leading you astray
and putting you on the path to ruin.
Do you see? And look at the context of Isaiah 3:12! In 3:14-15, God indicts the elders and officers – not “women and children” – who “ravaged the vineyard”, “grind the faces of the poor”, and steal their stuff!
The Bible gives various examples of women who served, with God’s blessing, as leaders. The Reformers’ Notes to Isaiah 3:12 in the Geneva Bible, Adam Clark’s Commentary, the Septuagint, and the REB’s rendering of Isaiah 3:12 are consistent with God’s actual practice of raising women as leaders.
But the Masoretes’ version of Isaiah 3:12 contains an unexplained selection by them of an “a” over an “o”. King James’ version, which is based on the Masoretes’ text instead of the much earlier Septuagint, perpetuates the unexplained selection.
King James’ version mistranslates Isaiah 3:12. Its rendering doesn’t fit the context of Isaiah Ch. 3; and it contradicts God’s actual practice, as revealed in many passages, of raising up women leaders. And remember: They mistranslated the word they rendered as, “children”, in order to make it “fit” their translation of n_shim as “women”. Is that not a shocking thing?
The other passages on which male supremacists rely have been equally mistranslated and distorted by them; and their arguments on these other passages are as easily refuted. Why even a woman can do it!
So! May a Christian vote for Sarah Palin? You betcha!