Verse of the Day 1.11.18: Ezekiel 34:16
16 אֶת־הָאֹבֶ֤דֶת אֲבַקֵּשׁ֙ וְאֶת־הַנִּדַּ֣חַת אָשִׁ֔יב וְלַנִּשְׁבֶּ֣רֶת אֶחֱבֹ֔שׁ וְאֶת־הַחוֹלָ֖ה אֲחַזֵּ֑ק וְאֶת־הַשְּׁמֵנָ֧ה וְאֶת־הַחֲזָקָ֛ה אַשְׁמִ֖יד אֶרְעֶ֥נָּה בְמִשְׁפָּֽט׃1
16 I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice.2
Today, C4C is reading Ezekiel 34 (again).
The lost I will find, and the scattered I will bring back, and the broken I will bind up and the weak I will make strong. But the rich and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd them with justice.
Contrary to the NIV, there actually is no “flock” in the Hebrew text, only a third person, feminine pronomial (pronoun) suffix. This them can possibly refer to any of the aforementioned feminine substantive adjectives (e.g., the rich and the strong) or the previous feminine participles (e.g., the lost, the scattered, the broken, and the weak). Flock, which does appear in the next verse (Eze 34:17), is actually a masculine noun (צֹאן | ṣōʾn).
Given the similarity between the Hebrew ד (dalet, a d sounding consonant) and ר (resh, an r sounding consonant), in the Masoretic Text, the word translated destroy (שָׁמַד | šāmad) may have been miscopied.3 I actually use to struggle mightily (and still do depending on the font) to consistently distinguish between the two letters. If it was miscopied, the verb would be שׁמד (šāmar׃ “keep, guard, observe, give heed”).4 instead of שׁמר (šāmad —notice the similarity of these characters).
Though the Septuagint (LXX), Syriac, and the Latin Vulgate read (a conjugated version of) šāmar, and therefore translate: “I will watch over,” and though some scholars render it “police,”5 considering the context, in my view, to watch over the fat and strong does not make as much sense. It appears that most modern translations stick with the Masoretic Text (MT) reading.6
Memorize Ezekiel 34:16 after watching a brief video tutorial demonstrating the How to Memorize Any Bible Verse in Less Than Five Minutes method below:
- Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia: With Werkgroep Informatica, Vrije Universiteit Morphology; Bible. O.T. Hebrew. Werkgroep Informatica, Vrije Universiteit. (Logos Bible Software, 2006), Eze 34:16.
- The New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), Eze 34:16.
- “The Hebrew letters d and r were easily confused in both the archaic and square scripts…” Daniel Isaac Block, The Book of Ezekiel, Chapters 25–48, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1997–).
- R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, eds., Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999), 939.
- “But the fat and the healthy ones I will police…” Daniel Isaac Block, The Book of Ezekiel, Chapters 25–48, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1997–), 287.
- However, many translations do list “watch over” or “guard” as a possibility in a footnote (NJPS, ESV, HCSB).