I noticed that the KJV gives Isaiah 38:17 as :

... thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption ... [KJV]

in which the addition, in italics, changes the meaning considerably. In the margin of the KJV is the following :

[Heb.] thou hast loved my soul from the pit ... [KJV margin]

with which Green's Literal appears to agree :

... You loved my soul from the pit of destruction ... [GIB]

However Robert Young gives a completely different rendering from either of the above, as follows :

... thou hast delighted in my soul without corruption ... [YLT]

in which he employs no italics at all.

I can understand why the KJV margin and Green's translation could well be the real meaning, regarding the descent of Messiah into sheol :

For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell (sheol); neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption [Psalm 16:10, KJV]

Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth ? [Ephesians 4:9, KJV.]

But I would like to see the text of Isaiah 38:17 confirmed before drawing the inference.

Can anyone shed light on this passage from the original Hebrew ?

1 Answer 1



Gesenius1 originally explained the phrase וְאַתָּה חָשַׁקְתָּ נַפְשִׁי מִשַּׁחַת בְּלִי in Isa. 38:17 as an example of a pregnant construction.2

Mit prägnanter Construction Jes. 38,17: חָשַׁקְתָּ נַפְשִׁי מִשַּׁחַת בְּלִי du liebtest mich (und zogst mich) aus der Grube des Verderbens.

with a pregnant construction [in] Isa. 38:17: חָשַׁקְתָּ נַפְשִׁי מִשַּׁחַת בְּלִי You loved me (and drew me) out of the pit of doom.

According to Oxford English Dictionary,3

pregnant construction: n. Grammar and Rhetoric a construction in which more is implied than is expressed by the words.


According to HALOT,4 חָשַׁקְתָּ in Isa. 38:17 should be read as חָשַׁכְתָּ (chashakhta), “you darkened,” a conjugation of the verb חָשַׁךְ (chashakh).5

The Dead Sea Scrolls—1QIsa1 Scroll

1QIsa1, Isa. 38:17

Although there are minor textual variants when compared to the Masoretic text, there is no substantial difference. Both manuscripts (M and 1QIsa1) contain חָשַׁקְתָּ (or its equivalent).6

The idea of a pregnant construction is supported by commentaries. McComiskey writes,7

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1 Gesenius (German, 1st ed.), p. 343–344, חָשַׁק
2 OED online, “pregnant construction”
3 Latin constructio pregnans
4 Frankly, I may be misunderstanding HALOT; I also do not understand the basis for their assertion.
5 On חָשַׁךְ (chasakh), see Gesenius (tr. Tregelles), p. 312 (CCCXII); HALOT, p. 361.
6 The scribes of the Dead Sea Scrolls had a propensity for suffixing ה to words ending in /a/.
7 McComiskey, p. 149


Gesenius, Heinrich Friedrich Wilhelm. Gesenius’s Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament Scriptures. Trans. Tregelles, Samuel Prideaux. London: Bagster, 1860.

Gesenius, Heinrich Friedrich Wilhelm. Hebräisch–Deutsches Handwörterbuch über die Schriften des Alten Testaments. Vol. 1. 1st ed. Leipzig: Vogel, 1810.

Koehler, Ludwig; Baumgartner, Walter. A Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament. Trans. Richardson, M. E. J. Ed. Baumgartner, Walter; Stamm, Johann Jakob. Leiden: Brill, 2002.

McComiskey, Thomas Edward. The Minor Prophets: An Exegetical and Expository Commentary. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2009.

The Digital Dead Sea Scrolls (http://dss.collections.imj.org.il/)

  • Very helpful. Thank you.
    – Nigel J
    Oct 9, 2019 at 10:16

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