This is a weird one. The ESV says the following:

5 For your Maker is your husband, the LORD of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called. Isaiah 54:5

But the words for "your Maker" and for "your husband" are both actually participle verbs in plural form. Given this is the case it seems like the first part of the verse could be literally translated as:

For they marrying you, are they making you, the Lord of Host is His name.

Is this translation literally possible?

Why does no translation on Bible Hub indicate the plural nature of the first two verbs in the verse?

It's also noteworthy that the LXX for this verse doesn't have any of this plural weirdness. The verbs are simply in singular form. Given that this is the case, which version is more authentically original? The LXX or the Masoretic text for this verse?

  • I find the second, literal translation oddly pleasing; we are indeed made to love God. "For the purpose of marrying you are they making you." Commented May 30 at 12:48

4 Answers 4


כִּי בֹעֲלַיִךְ עֹשַׂיִךְ יְהֹוָה צְבָאוֹת שְׁמוֹ וְגֹאֲלֵךְ קְדוֹשׁ יִשְׂרָאֵל אֱלֹהֵי כׇל־הָאָרֶץ יִקָּרֵא׃

The words בּוֹעֲלַיִךְ ,עשַׁׂיִךְ are indeed in the plural and are referring to a single subject, the LORD. See בְּעשׇׁיו in Him that made him (in Psalms 149:2), אלהים G-d, and אדונים Lord.


Is this translation literally possible?

A: It depends on your translation philosophy. This is a feature of Hebrew called דרך כבוד, the pluralis majestatis. See Ibn Ezra who compares it to the usage of plural nouns in modern languages when addressing one person, and with the plural used by royalty when issuing edicts. Translating it directly into English as plural is a choice to render the verse literally, another approach would be to use capitalization as the JPS does to convey majesty/divinity:

For the One who made you—whose name is “LORD of Hosts”—
Will espouse you.


Why does no translation on Bible Hub indicate the plural nature of the first two verbs in the verse?

A: See above, it's more straightforward and understandable to use other indicators of divinity rather than using the literal plurals in English


Given that this is the case, which version is more authentically original? The LXX or the Masoretic text for this verse?

A: I'll use two reasons for preferring the MT reading:

  1. The LXX are translations of Hebrew to the Indo-European language of Greek, so the translators had to negotiate with the Hebrew in front of them to convey what they thought verses meant. It is highly likely that a translator would choose to drop plurals from the Hebrew to make the translation clearer, and it is also highly unlikely that the plurals would have been introduced into the scribal transmission of the MT (preferring the harder/more difficult reading)

  2. Since the text in question is in Isaiah, we can consult 1QIsaa from Qumran, and lo and behold it also contains the plurals: enter image description here


Here is my attempt at rendering Isa 54:5 very literally:

for, [the] one marrying you is [the] one fashioning you - YHWH of Hosts [is] His name; and He who is redeeming you [is] the Holy One of Israel, "God of all the earth" He is called.

This is simply awkward English and most versions opt for the less complicated English construction beginning with: "You Husband is you Maker ...".

Barnes comments on the grammatically plural but functionally singular words in this verse:

For thy Maker is thine husband - Both these words, 'maker' and 'husband,' in the Hebrew are in the plural number. But the form is evidently the pluralis excellentiae - a form denoting majesty and honor (see 1 Samuel 19:13, 1 Samuel 19:16; Psalm 149:2; Proverbs 9:10; Proverbs 30:3; Ecclesiastes 12:1; Hosea 12:1). Here it refers to 'Yahweh of hosts,' necessarily in the singular, as Yahweh is one Deuteronomy 6:4.


This occurs in Hebrew Grammar and relates to God's attributes. See the following quotes.

On the other hand, we must regard as doubtful a number of participles in the plural, which, being used as attributes of God, resemble plurales excellentiae; thus, עשָֹׁי my Maker, Jb 35:10; עשַֹׁ֫יִךְ Is 54:5; עשָֹׁיו Ps 149:2; עשֶֹׁיהָ Is 22:11; נוֹֽטֵיהֶם stretching them out, Is 42:5; for all these forms may also be explained as singular, according to § 93 ss.—נֹֽגְשָׂיו Is 3:12 might also be regarded as another instance, unless it be a numerical plural, their oppressors; moreover, מְרִימָיו him who lifteth it up, Is 10:15 (but read probably מְרִימוֹ); שֹֽׁלְחָיו him who sendeth him, Pr 10:26, 22:21 (so Baer, but Ginsburg שֹֽׁלְחֶ֫ךָ), 25:13 (in parallelism with אֲדֹנָיו). These latter plurals, however (including מרימיו), may probably be more simply explained as indicating an indefinite individual, cf. o below.—For שֹֽׁמְרֶ֫יךָ Ps 121:5 (textus receptus) and בּוֹֽרְאֶ֫יךָ Ec 12:1 (textus receptus) the singular should be read, with Baer. -- Gesenius, F. W. (1910). Gesenius’ Hebrew grammar (E. Kautzsch & S. A. E. Cowley, Eds.; 2d English ed., p. 399). Clarendon Press.

  1. The plural is by no means used in Hebrew solely to express a number of individuals or separate objects, but may also denote them collectively. This use of the plural expresses either (a) a combination of various external constituent parts (plurals of local extension), or (b) a more or less intensive focusing of the characteristics inherent in the idea of the stem (abstract plurals, usually rendered in English by forms in -hood, -ness, -ship). A variety of the plurals described under (b), in which the secondary idea of intensity or of an internal multiplication of the idea of the stem may be clearly seen, is (c) the pluralis excellentiae or pluralis maiestatis. -- Ibid., pp. 396–397

Rem. The plural of extension includes also a few examples which were formerly explained as simply poetic plurals, e.g. Jb 17:1 קְבָרִים לִי graves are (ready) for me, i.e. the place where there are many of them (as it were the graveyard) is my portion, Jb 21:32, 2 Ch 16:14; cf. 2 K 22:20. -- Ibid., p. 397.

  • Gesenius is describing the pluralis majestatis Avi discusses. Gesenius's language is a little old.
    – Perry Webb
    Commented May 29 at 15:06

When examining prophetic passages in the OT it is important to keep these factors in mind.

  • The word of the Lord is like rain and snow watering the earth (Isaiah 55:10-11). There will be an immediate effect, rain, and a later effect, snow. Plural words may reflect now and then.
  • Biblical Hebrew lacked vowels and what was written could reflect two pronunciations. For example, דבר pronounced as dabar means word; pronounced as deber means plague. The Masoretic text removes the amphibological aspect from the original text. A "mismatch" of plural and singular may be a linguistic aspect of now and then. For example, the MT understands דבר in Isaiah 9:8 as word where the LXX understands the same passage as death. Both are true. The LORD sent the word which was rejected and so sent the plague.
  • The Masoretes reject Jesus as Christ; they lack full comprehension of the OT.
  • There is a hiddenness of God in the OT which is made manifest in the NT.

Prophetic passages in particular should be considered with the New Testament in mind. The plural of עָשָׂה could be taken narrowly as describing a person who has an inheritance as a descendent of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. That is, the LORD is responsible for making that individual as both a person in general and an Israelite in particular. It can also refer to being born again.

The word בעל is understood by the Masoretes as בָּעַל, husband. If pronounced בַּעַל it would mean master. Prophetically, when the LORD calls Israel His bride, He is both. The same can be said of the Church.

Master and Maker have an important prophetic sense in the New Testament:

For your Master [plural] your Maker [plural]...
כּי בעליך עשׂיך

For the one who believes in the name of Jesus, Maker made and made again; Master was and is. He is God of the whole earth.

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