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There seem to be two main variants of English translations of Zechariah 9:17a:

  1. The newer one, of which the NLT is a prime representative:

    16On that day the Lord their God will rescue his people,
    just as a shepherd rescues his sheep.
    They will sparkle in his land
    like jewels in a crown.
    17How wonderful and beautiful they will be!
    The young men will thrive on abundant grain,
    and the young women will flourish on new wine.

  2. The older one, of which the new ESV translation represents well:

    16On that day the Lord their God will save them,
    as the flock of his people;
    for like the jewels of a crown
    they shall shine on his land.
    17For how great is his goodness, and how great his beauty!
    Grain shall make the young men flourish,
    and new wine the young women.

The meanings of 17a are significantly different in these two renderings. Is he talking about wonderful people, or a great, good God? What clues do we have from the structure of these verses or the grammar of the Hebrew? In particular, is 17a in a different tense and number than 16b and 17b, and how significant is this?

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Speaking biblical-theologically, this passage most certainly must refer to the beauty of Christ, regardless of which way it is translated. He makes his people beautiful with his own beauty. –  Kazark Jul 8 '12 at 2:04

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