Translating the Hebrew of Zechariah 9:17

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StevieG

Puritan Board Freshman
Hi everyone,

I was wondering if anyone would be able to help me with translating Zechariah 9:17. I have been working through the chapter and found that the beginning of this verse seems to be disputed by Bible translations. When we survey different translations we find that they cannot decide who the focus of this verse is on. Here are a number of examples I've taken from biblegateway.com:

ESV - For how great is his goodness, and how great his beauty!
NIV - How attractive and beautiful they will be!
CSB - How lovely and beautiful!
NASB95 - For what comeliness and beauty will be theirs!
KJV - For how great is his goodness, and how great is his beauty!
NKJV - For how great is its goodness and how great its beauty!

If I am understanding the Hebrew of the verse (which as a second year ministry student I may not be!) then both good/goodness and beauty/beautiful are third person singular. If that is the case, should the verse not be translated with 'his' rather than 'they'? Is this not a description of the character of God in faithfully delivering and protecting His people?

Thanks in advance for any help on this.
 

iainduguid

Puritan Board Sophomore
Hi everyone,

I was wondering if anyone would be able to help me with translating Zechariah 9:17. I have been working through the chapter and found that the beginning of this verse seems to be disputed by Bible translations. When we survey different translations we find that they cannot decide who the focus of this verse is on. Here are a number of examples I've taken from biblegateway.com:

ESV - For how great is his goodness, and how great his beauty!
NIV - How attractive and beautiful they will be!
CSB - How lovely and beautiful!
NASB95 - For what comeliness and beauty will be theirs!
KJV - For how great is his goodness, and how great is his beauty!
NKJV - For how great is its goodness and how great its beauty!

If I am understanding the Hebrew of the verse (which as a second year ministry student I may not be!) then both good/goodness and beauty/beautiful are third person singular. If that is the case, should the verse not be translated with 'his' rather than 'they'? Is this not a description of the character of God in faithfully delivering and protecting His people?

Thanks in advance for any help on this.
In my commentary, I rendered it, "How great is its loveliness and beauty!", seeing the antecedent as the land, which ends v.16
 

StevieG

Puritan Board Freshman
Thanks for taking the time to reply to me, I really appreciate it. I hope you don't mind a follow up question. What made you come to the conclusion of the land? When reading the two verses together I was considering that it could either be referring back to the LORD at the start of the verse (verse 17 could be mirroring verse 16) or else the people whom He saves by continuing the thought in a more linear manner.
 

iainduguid

Puritan Board Sophomore
The previous verse describes the beauty of restored people and land: the people are like precious stones in a tiara, sparkling over the land (which suggests that if the people are the sparkling gemstones, the land is the tiara itself). The latter part of verse 17 continues on with the image of young men and women thriving on the produce of this restored land, grain and new wine. Contextually, the exclamation of beauty and loveliness seems to describe the land, paralleling the description of the people as "sparkling" in the previous verse (Think of the lyrics of "America the Beautiful"). The alternative translation that applies these attributes to the Lord (KJV/ESV) is not grammatically impossible; elsewhere in Scripture he is good and beautiful. it just doesn't fit the context as well, in my view.
 

StevieG

Puritan Board Freshman
That's very interesting. I'll need to think about that a bit more, it honestly isn't a conclusion I had considered before you highlighted it. When I was looking at different translation, I thought the CSB was simply allowing for the potential ambiguity of the sentence, but is it the case it has been translated that way to refer to the land?
 
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