SHIPS OF TARSHISH
“The ships of Tarshish did sing of thee in thy market: and thou wast replenished, and made very glorious in the midst of the seas.” (Ezekiel 27:25)
Ankerberg and White are confused by this verse and tell us that the KJV has it wrong on page 16 of “The Facts on The King James Only Debate” (just about the only fact in the book concerns Ankerberg finding verses confusing). Of course, in reality it is Ankerberg and White that are wrong. It is not the KJV that troubles this comic duo, it is the Hebrew. I don’t normally like to mess with interlinear texts, but this passage calls for it. The following interlinear text [http://www.scripture4all.org/OnlineInterlinear/OTpdf/eze27.pdf] does explain what our would-be Bible correctors fail to comprehend. The Hebrew text does say that it is the ships of Tarshish that sing:
ships-of Tarshish ones-singing-of.you and·you-are-being-filled and·you-are-being-heavy in·heart-of seas
There may be some justification for claiming that this verse is confusing. If one is not intelligent enough to figure out that it is the merchants of the ships that do the singing and not the actual crafts themselves, then it is possible to be confused in this example. My only advice for those who stumble at such passages is to pause and think about it for a few seconds, and it should come to you. If not, don’t worry about it. Not understanding this verse is not going to affect your salvation and you are not going to lose a valuable message that could make you a better Christian. You do not need to switch to a modern version that perverts Scripture in hundreds or thousands of places just because reinterprets the Hebrew here for benefit of men like Ankerberg and White. You do not need to switch to a New Age-oriented Bible that is owned by the same company that owns the Satanic Bible of Anton LaVey or by the anti-Christian, pro-abortion, socialists that own the RSV, or any of the countless perversions that are promoted by pro sodomite, pro-abortion, and pro-Catholic denominations that do not even believe the Bible, just because a couple of wolves in sheeps’ clothing tell you that this verse is confusing. There is a great deal that Ankerberg and White find confusing. They are confused men. Do not let them lead you into confusion. Let them fall into their ditch alone.
What Ankerberg and White have done, although it is highly unlikely that they have the slightest idea what they’ve done, is to ignore the Masoretic Text and to side with the corrupt Kittel manuscript as represented in the Biblia Hebraica Stutgartensia, which offers the alternative reading that the modern versions follow here. The verb shyr, meaning “to sing” is changed to shvr, which means, according to most modern versions “to travel”. Actually there are a number of possibilities for shvr, including “to behold”, “to become raised, excited, leap, or spring” but our two New Age Bible promoters would not be aware of that either.
Undoubtedly, Ankerberg and White will tell us that the modern versions had to change the text because it makes no sense to say that ships sing. Let’s look at a few other verses about the ships of Tarshish and see if that is a valid criticism. In Isaiah 23:1 and 14 the ships of Tarshish are told to howl.
Isa 23:1 “The burden of Tyre. Howl, ye ships of Tarshish; for it is laid waste, so that there is no house, no entering in: from the land of Chittim it is revealed to them.”
Isa 23:14 “Howl, ye ships of Tarshish: for your strength is laid waste.”
The RSV provides the following translations for these two verses: “The oracle concerning Tyre. Wail, O ships of Tarshish, for Tyre is laid waste, without house or haven! From the land of Cyprus it is revealed to them.”
RSV “Pass over to Tarshish, wail, O inhabitants of the coast!”
RSV “Wail, O ships of Tarshish, for your stronghold is laid waste.”
Note that in verse 6 we are informed that it is of course the inhabibants of the ship that are to howl: “Pass ye over to Tarshish; howl, ye inhabitants of the isle.” However, in the other two verses from chapter 23 the ships are clearly the subject as the RSV recognizes.
We need, of course, to look at what Ankerberg’s and White’s other New Age Bible versions do with Isaiah 23:14 (I chose this verse of the two because it is the shortest, but verse 1 would make the same point).
ASV Isa 23:14* Howl, ye ships of Tarshish; for your stronghold is laid waste.”
NIV “Wail, you ships of Tarshish; your fortress is destroyed!”
NASB “Wail, O (A)ships of Tarshish, For your stronghold is destroyed.”
Message “Wail, ships of Tarshish, your strong seaports all in ruins!”
Amplified “Howl, you ships of Tarshish, for your stronghold [of Tyre] is laid waste [your strength has been destroyed].”
NLT “Wail, O ships of Tarshish, for your harbor is destroyed!”
ESV ” Wail, O ships of Tarshish, for your stronghold is laid waste.”
CEV ” Not a fortress will be left standing, so tell all the seagoing ships [a] to mourn.”
NKJV “Wail, you ships of Tarshish! For your strength is laid waste.”
NLV ” Cry out in sorrow, O ships of Tarshish, for your strong-place is destroyed.”
Holman “Wail, ships of Tarshish, because your fortress is destroyed!”
NEB “Howl, you ships of Tarshish; for your haven is sacked.”
Reina Valera 1960 “Aullad, naves de Tarsis; porque destruída es vuestra fortaleza.”
Louis Segonde “Lamentez-vous, navires de Tarsis! Car votre forteresse est détruite!”
Are we to gather from this that Ankerberg and White think that it makes sense for the ships of Tarshish to howl or wail, but it doesn’t make sense for them to sing? Not likely. What is likely is that these two incompetents — or rather three since Ankerberg had help from John Weldon in putting together this silly book — were too eager to attack God’s word and to promote New Age Bible perversions to bother to honestly examine the issue. If they had, would they have been honest enough to omit this silly criticism of the KJV? I find it unlikely.
John Hinton, Ph.D.
Bible Restoration Ministry
A ministry seeking the translating and reprinting of KJV equivalent
Bibles in all the languages of the world.