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What’s a “Strong” Tower? - Prov 18:10 (Monday with Mounce 92)
In church today we sang the song, “the name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run into it and they are saved.” I checked the updated NIV text, and it has been changed from “strong tower” to “fortified tower.” (The change is in the TNIV as well).
This brings up an interesting issue. It is one thing to change people’s “favorite verse,” but to change a song’s text, now that’s serious.
I am only half joking. “The name of the Lord is a fortified tower” doesn’t quite fit the cadence.
The LXX has εκ μεγαλωσυνης ονομα κυριου, which word of word is, “out of majesty the name of Lord is strength.” Tower” is from the Hebrew MGDL.
The real question is, “What’s a strong tower”? A tower that possess the quality of strength? What does that mean? A tower that is built with a strong door? Strong straps?
If we think about it, we can probably get the point of the proverb, but is there any value in forcing the reader to work this hard? (The NLT has “strong fortress,” and that locution does work for me.)
So I understand why the TNIV shifted to “fortified tower.” We can easily see a tower, perhaps up on a hill, that has thick walls and an enforced door. A tower that provides safety for its inhabitants.
Which is of course the point of proverb. God is a fortified tower to which his children run, knowing that he will keep them safe.
William D. [Bill] Mounce posts about the Greek language, exegesis, and related topics at Koinonia. He is the author of numerous books, including the bestselling Basics of Biblical Greek, and is the general editor for Mounce's Complete Expository Dictionary of the Old and New Testament Words. He served as the New Testament chair of the English Standard Version Bible translation, and is currently on the Committee for Bible Translation for the NIV. Learn more and visit Bill's blog (co-authored with scholar and his father Bob Mounce) at www.billmounce.com.
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