17 Behold, for my own welfare I had great bitterness; But You have kept my soul from the pit of nothingness, For You have hurled all my sins behind Your back. 18 For Sheol cannot thank You, Death cannot praise You; Those who go down to the pit cannot hope for Your faithfulness. [NASB]
17 Surely for my own welfare I had such great anguish; but Your love has delivered me from the pit of oblivion, for You have cast all my sins behind Your back. 18 For Sheol cannot thank You; Death cannot praise You. Those who descend to the Pit cannot hope for Your faithfulness. [BSB]
17 Lo, to peace He changed for me bitterness, And Thou hast delighted in my soul without corruption, For Thou hast cast behind Thy back all my sins. 18 For Sheol doth not confess Thee, Death doth not praise Thee, Those going down to the pit hope not for Thy truth. [YLT]
17 Behold, for peace I had great bitterness: but thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption: for thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back. 18 For the grave cannot praise thee, death can not celebrate thee: they that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth. [KJV]
17 Behold, it was for my welfare that I had great bitterness; but in love you have delivered my life from the pit of destruction, for you have cast all my sins behind your back. 18 For Sheol does not thank you; death does not praise you; those who go down to the pit do not hope for your faithfulness. [ESV]
About verse 17:
- Which is more accurate: me, my soul or my life? Does it make any difference?
- Which is more accurate: pit of nothingness, pit of oblivion, corruption, pit of corruption or pit of destruction? Interestingly, YLT is the only one that omits the word pit.
About verse 18:
- Which is more accurate: Sheol or the grave? Does it make any difference?
Overall, what does Isaiah 38:17-18 tell us about the author's view of death, Sheol and the afterlife? Does Isaiah describe the afterlife as a state of oblivion, nothingness, non-existence, non-being? Does he mean something else?
In addition to this passage, I think it would be convenient to keep in mind what Isaiah said about the afterlife in other instances. For example, Isaiah 14:9-11:
9 Sheol below is excited about you, to meet you when you come; It stirs the spirits [Or shades (Heb Repha’im)] of the dead for you, all the leaders [Lit male goats] of the earth; It raises all the kings of the nations from their thrones. 10 They will all respond and say to you, ‘Even you have become weak as we, You have become like us. 11 Your pride and the music of your harps Have been brought down to Sheol; Maggots are spread out as your bed beneath you And worms are your covering.’ [NASB]
Did Isaiah believe that the spirits (Repha’im) of the dead were in Sheol? If so, how is this reconciled with the depressing description of Sheol in 38:17-18? Is Sheol a depressing place in the underground hosting the spirits of the dead?
In short: what did Isaiah believe about Sheol, death and the afterlife?
- On Isaiah 14:9-11: Are the spirits of the dead conscious according to Isaiah 14:9-11?
- On the afterlife according to Ecclesiastes: According to Ecclesiastes, what part of man goes to Sheol?