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vii
PREFACE.

whether the 'nations' of verse 4, or God's people, Israel, be referred to. And in Isaiah lv. 4, 'Behold, I have given him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people', the word 'people' is naturally understood by the English reader to refer to Israel.

Again, the Hebrew word goyim 'nations', which is applied to the nations of Canaan dispossessed by the Hebrews, and then also to the surrounding nations among whom the people of Israel were afterwards dispersed, acquired in later times a moral significance, which is represented in the Authorised Version by the rendering 'heathen' or 'Gentiles'. While recognizing this moral sense of the word, the Revisers have employed it much more sparingly than their predecessors had done.

Similarly, the Hebrew Sheôl, which signifies the abode of departed spirits, and corresponds to the Greek Hades, or the under world, is variously rendered in the Authorised Version by 'grave', 'pit', and 'hell'. Of these renderings 'hell', if it could be taken in its original sense as used in the Creeds, would be a fairly adequate equivalent for the Hebrew word; but it is so commonly understood of the place of torment that to employ it frequently would lead to inevitable misunderstanding. The Revisers therefore in the historical narratives have left the rendering 'the grave' or 'the pit' in the text, with a marginal note 'Heb. Sheol' to indicate that it does not signify 'the place of burial'; while in the poetical writings they have put most commonly 'Sheol' in the text and 'the grave' in the margin. In Isaiah xiv. however, where 'hell' is used in more of its original sense and is less liable to be misunderstood, and where any change in so familiar a passage which was not distinctly an improvement would be a decided loss, the Revisers have contented themselves with leaving 'hell' in the text, and have connected it with other passages by putting 'Sheol' in the margin.

In connexion with this it may be mentioned that 'Abaddon', which has hitherto been known to the English reader of the Bible only from the New Testament (Rev. ix. 11), has been introduced in three passages (Job xxvi. 6; Prov. xv. 11, xxvii. 20), where a proper name appears to be required for giving vividness and point.

The Hebrew word Ashêrah, which is uniformly and wrongly rendered 'grove' in the Authorised Version, most probably denotes the wooden symbol of a goddess; and the Revisers therefore have not hesitated to introduce it as a proper name in the singular (Judg. vi. 25, &c.), with the plurals Asherim (Ex. xxxiv. 13, &c.) and Asheroth (Judg. iii. 7, &c.), following the analogy of the Baalim (Judg. iii. 7) and the Ashtaroth (Judg. ii. 13), which are already familiar.

In regard to the language of the Authorised Version, the Revisers have thought it no part of their duty to reduce it to conformity with modern usage, and have therefore left untouched all archaisms, whether of language or construction, which though not in familiar use cause a reader no embarrassment and lead to no misunderstanding. They are aware that in so doing they will disappoint the large English-speaking race on the other side of the Atlantic, and it is a question upon which they are prepared to agree to a friendly difference of opinion. The principle by which they have been guided has been clear and consistent. Where an archaic word or expression was liable to be misunderstood or at least was not perfectly intelligible, they have substituted for it another, in equally good use at the time the Authorised Version was made, and expressing all that the archaism was intended to convey, but more familiar to the modern reader. In such cases the gain was greater than the loss. But in other instances where the word or expression, although obsolete, was not unintelligible, it was thought that the change would involve greater loss than gain, and the old rendering was therefore allowed to stand. More especially was this the case when the archaism was a perfectly correct rendering of the original and there was no