Ezekiel 39:2: Is the King James reading of “…leave but the sixth part of thee” a mistranslation?
The new translations (including the so-called “New King James”) have all changed this verse.
KJV: “And I will turn thee back, and leave but the sixth part of thee…”
NASB: “And I will turn you around, drive you on, take you up…”
NIV: “I will turn you around and drag you along.”
Amplified: “And I will turn you about and will lead you on, …”
NKJV: “And I will turn you around and lead you on, …”
Most prophecy teachers “prefer” this new translation rendering and they do so simply because it seems to fit their idea of what SHOULD happen as a result of the war described in Ezekiel 38-39. But this is a dangerous way to handle God’s word. We will see, in a moment, that their idea of what SHOULD happen is dead WRONG.
In his book on Ezekiel 38-39 titled, “The Coming Islamic Invasion of Israel,” Mark Hitchcock writes on page 93, “God will come to rescue His helpless, overwhelmed people using four means to totally destroy Russia and her Islamic allies.” Then, in his footnote, he writes:
“31. In Ezekiel 39:2, the King James Version reads as if only five-sixths of the invading army will be destroyed. “And I will turn thee back, and leave but the sixth part of thee” (emphasis added). However, most modern versions translate the Hebrew verb as “lead thee on” (ASV), “drive you on” (NASB), “drag you along” (NIV), and “drive you” (NLT). These translations are preferred over the King James Version. See Charles Lee Feinberg, The Prophecy of Ezekiel (Chicago: Moody Press, 1969, 228.”
[We have left the quote exactly as given by Hitchcock, including his use of italics and his parenthetic comments.]
This is how this verse is handled by the typical new evangelical prophecy teacher. And it is a clear ERROR in judgment on their part.
First of all, the Hebrew “shawshaw” is of an unclear root of origin. For any translator to pretend to be translating “shawshaw” (or any other Hebrew root, for that matter) without consulting the CONTEXT would be insane. And to know the context of this battle scene and translate the passage that, IN ANY WAY, requires God to “totally destroy” the armies of Ezekiel 38-39 is an ERROR and MISTRANSLATION of the highest order in these new translations.
The context is a battle that precedes Armageddon.
In Revelation 16, the Battle of Armageddon is described. This battle is NOT the battle of Ezekiel 38-39 which has already taken place BEFORE Armageddon. That is a fact that Hitchcock, Walvoord, Pentecost and the majority of evangelical dispensationalists agree upon. So, how can they also miss the fact that all the nations listed in Ezekiel 38:1-6 (that have been defeated by God at some point before or DURING the Great Tribulation) gather AGAIN with the rest of the world against Israel at the END of the Great Tribulation???
Revelation 16:14, “…which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.
Revelation 16:16, “And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.”
God’s word says that there will be a battle involving what is clearly a Russian-Islamic confederacy at some point before or during the Time of Jacob’s Trouble, also called the Great Tribulation. It is not our purpose to discuss the timing of this war, but most dispensationalists agree on this much.
God’s word also says that there will be a gathering of ALL nations (not just Russia and the “Islamic Nation”) at the Battle of Armageddon (see also Psalm 2). This battle happens only a few years (at the most) after the battle described in Ezekiel 38-39.
The King James Version, once again, demonstrates it’s supremacy above all other English translations by leaving a sizeable but utterly de-humanized number of enemy (Islamic and Russian) troops alive at the end of the battle in Ezekiel 38-39. They return to those who remain at home: The elderly, their wives, their children and others that may be disabled or simply “conscientious objectors” who have stayed at home and prayed for Allah to wipe out the Jews and grant victory to his armies as they fought a Holy Jihad.
To the dismay of the ENTIRE population of earth (with only a small number of gentile believers alive at that time), Allah’s armies fail and the Jews survive. Only one out of six Jihadists and Ruskies make the trip home, after the war of Ezekiel 38-39 is complete.
For several years, the anger, frustration, shame and hatred will boil like a pot stew of emotional and spiritual poison. And God will USE that to gather their emaciated, shell-shocked troops to join “hand in hand” with the more powerful, untested, unbeaten armies of Antichrist and fight one last battle against the Jewish State (Proverbs 11:21).
“These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings; and they that are with him are called, chosen, and faithful.” (Revelation 17:14)
ONLY THE KING JAMES BIBLE is translated in a way that doesn’t make God out to be a LIAR.