Proper translation of Ezekiel 6:9?

Not open for further replies.


Puritan Board Freshman
Was curious about the proper translation of a very interesting statement I found in Ezekiel 6:9 this morning. The ESV translates the phrase as “how I have been broken over their whoring heart that has departed from me and over their eyes that go whoring after their idols.” The CSB (“how I was crushed”), the NASB (“how I have been hurt”), the KJV (“because I am broken”), and the NIV (“how I have been grieved”) all corroborate the translation of this verb in the passive sense. However, several commentators that I have seen support a translation in a more active sense (forgive the imprecision, I do not know any Hebrew), giving the sense of God being the one who does the breaking of their adulterous hearts and eyes, rather than He being the one who is broken by them.

Both translations make sense in light of the overall context of the repentance of the exiled remnant in 6:8-10, but I’m unsure which is more accurate. Any thoughts?
from my quick study, it seems to figuratively describe God's heart

shabar (שָׁבַר, 7665), “to break, shatter, smash, crush.” This word is frequently used in ancient Akkadian and Ugaritic, and is common throughout Hebrew. It is found almost 150 times in the Hebrew Bible. The first biblical occurrence of shabar is in Gen. 19:9, which tells how the men of Sodom threatened to “break” Lot’s door to take his house guests.
The common word for “breaking” things, shabar describes the breaking of earthen vessels (Judg. 7:20; Jer. 19:10), of bows (Hos. 1:5), of swords (Hos. 2:18), of bones (Exod. 12:46), and of yokes or bonds (Jer. 28:10, 12–13). Sometimes it is used figuratively to describe a “shattered” heart or emotion (Ps. 69:20; Ezek. 6:9).

W. E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger, and William White Jr., Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Nashville, TN: T. Nelson, 1996), 24–25.
The Hebrew text has the Niphal of shabar which everywhere else seems to have a passive sense, which is why ESV/CSB/KJV/NASB all render something like "I have been broken..." Compare Jer 23:9, "My heart is broken within me".

The RSV is the main version that goes in a different direction: "I have broken their wanton heart". It isn't getting this from the Hebrew but from some of the old Greek texts which seem to reflect a qal rather than a Niphal (Aquila, Symmachus, Theodotion). The BHS editors also suggest going in that direction.

That's pretty weak support to abandon the MT (Hebrew) text here, where it makes perfectly good sense as it stands. The 'eth that follows is a little unusual but is likely the preposition meaning something like "with" rather than the direct accusative marker, as the KJV already recognized (in this case not following the Geneva). So the majority translation is correct.
Not open for further replies.