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Ezekiel 36:26a English Standard Version

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you.

Young's Literal Translation

And I have given to you a new heart, And a new spirit I give in your midst,

Which translation is more accurate?

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The important word קֶרֶב (qereb) can have one of two meanings:

  • inward part of human body, physical sense, ׳בְּק within one's body Genesis 25:22 (J), compare Genesis 18:12 (J), 1 Samuel 25:37; Jeremiah 23:9; Job 20:14 ("" בְּמֵעָיו), compare Isaiah 19:1 (of nation personified) into his body Psalm 109:18 (simile); as seat of life (וַ)תָּשָׁב נֶפֶשׁהַֿיּלֶד עַלקִֿרְבּוֺ 1 Kings 17:21,22, compare (of idol) Habakkuk 2:19; or in an emotional sense: ׳בְּק 1 Kings 3:28; Jeremiah 4:14; Jeremiah 9:7; Proverbs 26:24; Psalm 62:5; Psalm 94:19; "" בְלֵב Proverbs 14:33, עַללֵֿב Jeremiah 31:33; seat of לֵב Psalm 39:4; Psalm 55:5; Psalm 109:22; Lamentations 1:20; of רוּחַ Ezekiel 11:19; Ezekiel 36:26,27; Zechariah 12:1; Isaiah 26:6; Psalm 51:12, compare Isaiah 19:3,14; לִבִּי ׳בְּק Psalm 36:2 (read לִבּוֺ Vrss Hup Now Che Bae and others)
  • Among people corporately, Amos 7:8; Genesis 24:3; Exodus 23:25; Deuteronomy 31:17; Jeremiah 46:21; 1 Samuel 4:3; Joshua 7:12; Judges 10:16 +, ׳יִשׂ ׳בְּק Deuteronomy 17:10 +, ׳בְּק ׳בֵּית יִשׂ Amos 7:10 הַכְּנַעֲנִי ׳בְּק Judges 1:32,33; Judges 3:5, גּוֺי ׳מִקּ Deuteronomy 4:34 etc (2) ) הַמַּחֲנֶה׳(מִק ׳בְּק Joshua 1:11; Numbers 14:44 6t. (3) אֶחָיו ׳בְּק Deuteronomy 18:2; 1 Samuel 16:13, and (׳מִק) Deuteronomy 17:15; Deuteronomy 18:18. (4) עַמֶּיהָ ׳מִקּ Exodus 31:14 (II.עַם) (5) אֹיְכֶיךָ ׳בְּק Psalm 110:2 compare (of wicked) Psalm 55:16 חֲכָמִים ׳בְּק Proverbs 15:31. (6) אֱלֹהִים יִשְׁמֹּט ׳בְּק Psalm 82:1 -7הַמִּלְחָמָה ׳בְּק 1 Kings 20:39 into the midst of the battle, the thick of the fight; צָרָה ׳בְּק Palam 1Ki 138:7. (8) of nations, הַגּוֺיִם ׳בְּק Deuteronomy 29:15, הָעַמִּים Lamentations 3:45

Therefore, the question is Eze 26:36, does קֶרֶב (qereb) refer to the individual (as per NIV, ESV, BSB, NKJV, NASB, etc) or to a group of people (as per ISV, YLT, etc)?

I am incline to think that קֶרֶב (qereb) refers to the individual in this occasion because:

  • The same word is used in V27 with the same meaning which is clearly individual
  • The idea of following decrees and keeping laws is always an individual matter of the "heart" and "mind"
  • It is the heart of the people that is addressed in both V26 and 27.
  • This is the central message of this part of Ezekiel as illustrated by the promise of the New Covenant in Eze 31:31-34, again with regular references to a changed heart and mind with a "new Spirit that Knows the LORD".
  • BDB also suggests that the meaning in Eze 36:26, 27 (along with 11:19) is also referring to the mind and heart within a person as the seat of emotional of the person

Therefore, I believe that the NIV, ESV, BSB, NKJV, NASB are more correct that the YLT on this occasion.

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The ESV/KJV compared to YLT is my main set up in the BLB app on my phone, so I wanted to add a little bit of detail. Hebrew is a relational language, whereas English is a technical language. Languages like Greek can translate to English much more accurately than Hebrew can. However, it doesn't mean that it is wrong. On the contrary, they can actually be all correct, which is why there are so many translations. According to Blue Letter Bible, the word qereb is translated as "midst" 73 times, while "within" is used 24 times. This is how both translations can be correct. As someone once told me, instead of asking if one translation is better, instead ask: do these variances in translation help reveal a deeper understanding?

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  • +1 I agree that each version is correct with respect to some particular reasons. For my logical taste, Dottard is right in that NIV is "more correct" than that of YLT on this occasion because of the immediate context of the Hebrew word. The same word appears in verse 27. How would you explain its usge in verse 27? – Tony Chan May 17 at 23:14
  • I think this is a good answer as will and I agree. +1. – Dottard May 17 at 23:27
  • To the translator's credit, they were at least consistent in how they used the word qereb in both verses. I'm sure you've noticed where they are not. It's precisely for this reason why I like to use a parallel bible like the way you are doing. I do agree, I think Dottard's suggestion sounds more fluid than "yesterday's english" that is the YLT. – user42370 May 17 at 23:31

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