NIV: 12Lord, are you not from everlasting?

you will never die

ESV: 12Are you not from everlasting,

O Lord my God, my Holy One?

We shall not die.

NET: 12LORD, you have been active from ancient times;
my sovereign God, you are immortal

NASB: 12Are You not from everlasting,

O Lord, my God, my Holy One?

We will not die.

Teleioteti: 12Are you not of old,

YHWH, my God, my Holy One?

We shall not die.

Significance: The translation of the NIV and NET emphasizes God’s immortality, which does not contribute much to Habakkuk’s thought. However, the other translations emphasize the faith of Habakkuk, his confidence that God will indeed preserve the life of His faithful. This is reinforced by Teleioteti’s rendering “are you not of old.” The significance is that Habakkuk is reflecting on God’s past actions—the God of old, of Abraham and Isaac—not His eternality.

Reason for Translation: The NIV and NET follow an old rabbinic tradition and not the Hebrew text. According to this tradition, there are several places where ancient scribes changed the Hebrew text to avoid implicating God with a potentially blasphemous statement (here, that He could die; these emendations are known as the tiqqun sopherim, “emendations of the scribes”). However, there is no manuscript evidence for this tradition and the Hebrew text we have makes the best sense in context.

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