Another Possible Punctuation Changes Meaning Entirely

Normal translation (NIV): Isaiah 1:18   “Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”

But remember, in the Hebrew text, there are no punctuation marks.  Could this possibly be read as two questions?  “Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, shall they be as white as snow?  Though they are red as crimson, shall they shall be like wool?”

Photo by Marco Bellucci

Some have preferred a sarcastic tone: “though your sins were scarlet, of course they can easily turn white; of course you know how to make innocent lambs of yourselves.”

In Hebrew, each of these phrases begins with the word “IM” (ALEPH MEM-SOFIT) which often means “if” and implies “conditionality”.  Sometimes, when combined with the word “not” / LO, it can mean “IF NOT – BUT RATHER”…

Reference: http://www.etsjets.org/files/JETS-PDFs/12/12-3/12-3-pp133-141_JETS.pdf

NOTE: I’m writing this while on the road, and I have some notes from a previous class that I plan to look up and add to this blog later this year.

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