"Sluices and ponds for fish" or "Who work for pay will be grieved" in Isaiah 19:10?
"And they shall be broken in the purposes thereof, all that make sluices and ponds for fish." (Isaiah 19:10, KJV)
There are three issues here concerning the ambiguity of the Hebrew.
The first issue concerns the interpretation of שכר. The KJV interprets this word as שׂכר (s'eker), which means "sluices" or "enclosures" (Barnes' Notes on the Bible). Modern translations tend to interpret the word as שׂכר (s'âkar), which means "to hire".
The second issue concerns the interpretation of (אגמ(י. The KJV interprets this word as אֲגַם (agam), which means "ponds". Modern translations tend to interpret the word as אַגְמֵי (agem), which means "grieved".
The third issues concerns the interpretation of נָֽפֶשׁ, which means "living things" or "soul". The KJV, as indicated in the margin, interprets "living things" in this context to mean "fish". Modern translations, having "grieved" instead of "ponds", translates the phrase as "grieved in soul", "sick at heart" or just simply "grieved".
The context favors the KJV interpretation. Isaiah 19 describes the failing fishing industry of Egypt. Verse 5 says "And the waters shall fail from the sea, and the river shall be wasted and dried up". Verse 8 continues, "The fishers also shall mourn, and all they that cast angle into the brooks shall lament, and they that spread nets upon the waters shall languish." The judgment finally falls on the farmed fishing industry at verse 10, which says, "And they shall be broken in the purposes thereof, all that make sluices and ponds for fish."
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