Joseph Smith’s Translation of the Bible, Part XV

By Marvin W. Cowan

Joseph Smith said His Inspired Version of the Bible, which LDS call the Joseph Smith Translation (JST), and the Book of Mormon (B. of M.) were translated or inspired by the Lord. Our last article compared Isaiah 2:1-10 in the JST with II Nephi 12:1-10 in the B. of M. II Nephi 12 quotes Isaiah 2, so they should be the same, but there is at least one difference in this chapter and more differences in other chapters where the B. of M. quotes the Bible. Those texts were also compared with the same verses in the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible and the original Hebrew text. We will now continue our discussion of the JST version of Isaiah 2 to give more insight into the kind of changes Smith made in his JST in just one chapter of Isaiah. Isaiah 2:11 says, “And it shall come to pass that the lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of man shall be bowed down, and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day.” The words “And it shall come to pass that” are also in II Nephi 12:11, but they are not in the KJV or original Hebrew text and they don’t clarify the verse, so they just take up space. The JST of Isaiah 2:11 says “the haughtiness of man,” but II Nephi 12:11 says “men.” It is also “men” in the original 1830 edition of the B. of M., the KJV and the original Hebrew text. Since LDS claim the Lord inspired both the JST and the B. of M. why are they different if II Nephi 12:11 was quoting Isaiah 2:11? Surely the Lord knew that “man” is singular and “men” is plural when He inspired the original Hebrew text of this verse, so did he forget when He inspired the JST?

Isaiah 2:12 in the JST says, “For the day of the Lord of hosts soon cometh upon all nations; yea, upon every one; yea, upon the proud and lofty, and upon every one who is lifted up and he shall be brought low.” There are no “yea’s” in this verse in the KJV nor in the original Hebrew text. The phrase “soon cometh upon all nations” is not in the original or in any genuine translation in English because it is out of place. Isaiah clearly addressed his message to Judah and Jerusalem (Isaiah 1:1; 2:1; 2:5) not “all nations.” But, all editions of the B. of M. has the same wording as the JST. The word “one” appears twice in the JST and the KJV of this verse, but it is italicized in the KJV which means it was not in the original but the KJV translators supplied it to smooth out the reading. It is not italicized in the JST, so did the Lord add that word or did Smith just copy the KJV? Isaiah 2:13 in the JST says, “Yea, and the day of the Lord shall come upon all the cedars of Lebanon, for they are high and lifted up; and upon all the oaks of Bashan.” There is no “yea” in this verse in the KJV or the original Hebrew text. Nor does this verse contain “the day of the Lord shall come” in the KJV or the original because those words were in verse 12, so they are redundant and do not add clarity to this verse. The JST also has “for they” where the KJV has “that” in italics. “For they” is not in the original and doesn’t improve what the word “that” means in this context. The JST of Isaiah 2:14 says, “And upon all the high mountains, and upon all the hills, and upon all the nations, which are lifted up.” The words “and upon all the nations” are not in the KJV or in the original, but they are in all editions of the B. of M. Those words are out of place since Isaiah was writing about Judah and Jerusalem as we pointed out in verse 12. The JST of Isaiah 2:15 says, “And upon every people, and upon every high tower, and upon every fenced wall.” The words “upon every people” are not in the KJV or in the original, but the author of the JST included all people and nations in what Isaiah said! The JST of Isaiah 2:16 says, “And upon all the ships of the sea, and upon all the ships of Tarshish, and upon all pleasant pictures” (imagery). The words “upon all the ships of the sea” are not in the KJV or the original. “All the ships of the sea” would include “all of the ships of Tarshish,” so this is a redundant statement. The additional words in the JST of Isaiah 2:16 don’t clarify anything!

The JST of Isaiah 2:17-18 are identical in the KJV. But Isaiah 2:19 says, “And they shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for the fear of the Lord shall come upon them, and the glory of His majesty shall smite them, when He ariseth to shake terribly the earth.” The words “shall come upon them” and “shall smite them” are not in the KJV or in the original, but they are in II Nephi 12:19 which shows that Smith copied them from the B. of M. since it was completed before the JST. How does the Lord’s glory smite people? Isaiah 2:20 in the JST reads much like the KJV except it leaves out the italicized words in the KJV and also changes “he” to “they.” The JST of Isaiah 2:21 says, “To go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the tops of the ragged rocks, for the fear of the Lord shall come upon them, and the majesty of the Lord shall smite them, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth.” This verse is similar to verse 19 and the JST again added the words “shall come upon them” and “shall smite them” even though they are not in the KJV or the original. How does the Lord’s majesty smite people? The last phrase of this verse in the KJV says, “and for the glory of his majesty when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth.” So, this verse simply says the idol worshipers will flee into the rocks because they are afraid that the Lord’s wrath will come on them because of their idolatry and they are also frightened by the glory of his majesty. The JST has distorted the meaning of this verse! The JST of Isaiah 2:21 is identical in the KJV and says to quit trusting in frail men whose breath is in his nostrils today, but will it be tomorrow? Smith’s changes this chapter of the JST don’t clarify or improve it, so did “the Lord” really reveal those changes to him?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *