Q. I have been studying Ezekiel 38 & 39. I have noticed that in 39:2 the King James translation says “and leave the sixth part of thee”. I do not see this in any of my other translations. Why do the other translations not give this information or why does the King James have this information in it? No one has address this in any of the books I have read. I would like to know your thought on this.
A. I’ve been told that this is a figure of speech in Hebrew, like decimate is in English. The term decimate comes from the Roman Army’s method of punishment for a force of soldiers who refused to fight in a battle. Lining them up, the officers would select every 10th soldier for immediate execution, decem being the Latin word for ten. Over time the word decimate has come to mean “to annihilate or destroy” because afterward the remaining group was disbanded.
The Hebrew word translated “leave but the 6th part” in Ezekiel 39:2 is shawshaw and only appears here. In the literal sense it means to lead or lead on, but has acquired a similar meaning to the Latin decimate, and means that the Moslem coalition attacking Israel will be annihilated.