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I was discussing Isaiah 44:6 with a Biblical scholar who claimed that the "his" in the sentence refers back to the Lord, not to Israel. Can you comment?

Thus says.... Adonai (subject 1) the king of Israel (appositive 1) and (vav conjunction) his redeemer (subject 2) the Adonai of armies (appositive 2) "I am the first and I am the last, and beside me there is no G-d."

This scholar's claim is that "his" in subject 2 cannot refer back to Israel in appositive 1 because it's linguistically invalid, but I'm not knowledgeable enough about Hebrew to comment. He appears to want to make "Adonai the king of Israel" speaking along with "his redeemer, the Adonai of armies" - two separate beings.

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  • Does the person claim that “I am the First and I am the Last” is also two? It’s two descriptions for one divine person, not two divine persons.
    – user64483
    Commented May 7 at 2:49

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Here are the choices (using the ESV):

  1. Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and its [the people of Israel’s] Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: “I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god.
  2. Thus says the LORD, the King of [the man] Israel and his [Israel’s] Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: “I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god.
  3. Thus says the LORD: “The king of Israel and his [the king’s] Redeemer . . .
  4. Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and his [Yahweh’s chosen] Redeemer.

Choice 2, makes God the king of only one man. Choice 3, leaves the sentence without a purpose. Choice 4 complicates the God’s intended message against polytheism.

Here’s the verse in many Bible translations: https://www.biblegateway.com/verse/en/Isaiah%2044:6

Here’s the interlinear Hebrew

Thus says Yahweh, the King of Israel and his Redeemer Yahweh of hosts, I am the First and I am the Last and Besides Me there is no God [Elohim].

https://biblehub.com/interlinear/isaiah/44.htm

Here’s the Dead Sea Scrolls translation (Abegg, Flint, and Ulrich):

“Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and its redeemer . . .”

Here’s the Greek Septuagint translation (ABP):

Thus Says God, the king of Israel, and the one rescuing him, the God of hosts. I am first and I am after these things; besides me there is not a God.

Outside the context of this verse, I’m not qualified to provide an informed opinion on the grammar, but I hope these scholarly sources at least provide additional perspective.

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  • There's no neuter pronoun in Hebrew. Since Israel is a “he”, translating a third person masculine gender prononimal suffix as “it” when referring to Israel would be incorrect. Commented Apr 7 at 16:22
  • @Der Übermensch, Thank you for the grammatical insight. While I'm aware of gender in other languages including German, I wonder why Abegg, Flint, and Ulrich translated וְגֹאֲל֖וֹ as a neuter, or whether the DSS used a different word than the MT. Any ideas?
    – Dieter
    Commented Apr 7 at 20:48

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