YLT Isaiah 59:19 And they fear from the west the name of Jehovah, And from the rising of the sun -- His honour, When come in as a flood doth an adversary, The Spirit of Jehovah hath raised an ensign against him.

Biblehub has several example translations, which vary a lot.


  • why the double dashes? That's a "writing smell" to me suggesting the translators are in the weeds
  • is the flood a good thing or a bad thing?
  • what is the purpose of raising a flag?

A better rendering is:-

Isaiah 59:19 New International Version (NIV) [] Added

19 From the west, people will fear the name of the Lord [Jehovah, Heb. "JHVH"], and from the rising of the sun, they will revere his glory. For he will come like a pent-up flood that the breath of the Lord drives along.[a]

a Footnotes: Isaiah 59:19 Or When enemies come in like a flood, / the Spirit of the Lord will put them to flight

The context show his is a time when Jehovah has his "name" know and his worship known and preformed world wide or as it says from "west" to east, "the rising sun" and according to the later part of the verse nothing will stop him from doing this, (see NIV footnote). Nothing will halt Jehovah's action as it will be like an unstoppable flood.

  • "Better" doesn't really say what makes it "better". What do you do with the word "sar" ("enemy")? biblehub.com/interlinear/isaiah/59-19.htm
    – Ruminator
    Nov 3 '18 at 16:12
  • The conection with "enemy" is from - Isaiah 59:18 (NIV) "According to what they have done, so will he [Jehovah] repay wrath to his enemies and retribution to his foes; he will repay the islands their due." "Flag" does not seem to fit the flow of the verse etc..
    – user26950
    Nov 3 '18 at 22:00
  • @Ruminator The NIV translation interprets the same word as having another meaning, "narrow," so it is translated as "pent-up"
    – b a
    Nov 4 '18 at 9:29
  • Yes, I see this in BDB: "Isaiah 59:19 like a contracted (and hence swift, powerful) river". I might have to rethink the answer. BDB also has: "Polel Perfect Isaiah 59:19 נֹסֲסָה בּוֺ ׳רוּחַ י the breath of ׳י driveth at it, driveth it on (compare Hiphil 2)."
    – Ruminator
    Nov 4 '18 at 11:07
  • ethos, if you put the info from BDB in your answer I can mark it as the answer.
    – Ruminator
    Nov 4 '18 at 11:12

why the double dashes? That's a "writing smell" to me suggesting the translators are in the weeds

What the translation means to say by including the dashes is And from the rising of the sun [they fear] His honour (replacing the dashes with bracketed words), as in the beginning of the verse, as opposed to And from the rising of the sun [is] His honour. This is required by the grammar of the verse in Hebrew, which says וּמִמִּזְרַח־שֶׁ֖מֶשׁ אֶת־כְּבוֹד֑וֹ, requiring "His honor" to be a direct object of something, namely the fear mentioned earlier in the verse.

is the flood a good thing or a bad thing?

It's a bad thing, because the river (נָהָר) is used as a metaphor to describe an adversary (צָר). A river can indeed be a symbol of good (Isaiah 66:12), but the context here rules that out. For another example of rivers in battle imagery, see Habakkuk 3:9.

what is the use of raising a flag?

Raising a flag is a symbol of war. For example, Isaiah 13:2 describes raising a flag (נֵס) on a hill as the introduction to a prophecy of a war against Babylon. The imagery of this passage is a war: God dresses in armor and a helmet, and goes to fight his enemies (Isaiah 59:17-18)


The original Hebrew can be seen here: https://biblehub.com/interlinear/isaiah/59.htm

The literal translation,that I just made, word for word is: "And they will fear from the west the name YHVH and from eastern sun His Glory when will come like a river enemy, Spirit YHVH put to flight in him.

They added the double dashes evidently to add emphasis to the word following. The word "et" before a word adds emphasis, but "et is also used in this verse before the word "name", so why wasn't it used there as well?

"Flood" is not used, but one could imagine an overflowing river. The enemy coming like a "flood" or "river" could not be a good thing, that is why the Spirit of YHVH is going to make him turn to flee.

There is no "degel" or "flag", so I have no idea why that is added to translations.

I do see a correlation between this verse and Revelation 12:16: "And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth."

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