- A study Bible should try to convey the ways of thought and expression that are characteristic of the original. So human an interest as gender seems unworthy of suppression. None of the newer translation remove from Israel his sonship in Ex. 4:22 yet they are often careless in other regards. (81) If masculine Israel can keep his gender there, why should not Zion be able to maintain her femininity elsewhere? The parallel between masculine Israel and feminine Zion is one that the Bible itself maintains. page 119 *
- this is the word that the Lord has spoken concerning him: She despises you, she scorns you - virgin daughter Zion; she tosses her head - behind your back, daughter Jerusalem. NRSV
this is the word the LORD has spoken against him: "The Virgin Daughter of Zion despises and mocks you. The Daughter of Jerusalem tosses her head as you flee. NIV
However, in the NRSV the gender of the pronoun is, in fact, suppressed in Isaiah 29:2,
- Ah, Ariel, Ariel, the city where David encamped! Add year to year; let the festivals run their round. Yet I will distress Ariel, and there shall be moaning and lamentation, and Jerusalem F81 shall be to me like an Ariel.
- Woe to you, Ariel, Ariel,
the city where David settled!
Add year to year
and let your cycle of festivals go on.
2 Yet I will besiege Ariel;
she will mourn and lament,
she will be to me like an altar hearth. [a]
So far, with respect to keeping the gender of Zion clear, the TNIV outperforms the others. The KJV has "daughter of Zion" which, I think, obscures the gender of Zion herself.
- And the multitude of all the nations that fight against Ariel, all that fight against her and her stronghold, and who distress her, shall be like a dream, a vision of the night. NRSV.
However, this does not mean that the people of God are always feminine in relation to a masculine God. Far from it. Israel, also the people of God, is masculine; and God has the feminine feelings of a mother for her child in regard to her people. The interplay of gender in the Hebrew scriptures is complex.
*Schmitt, John J. The city as woman in Isaiah 1-39 in Evans, Craig and Craig C. Broyles, Writing and Reading the Scroll of Isaiah: Studies of an Interpretive Tradition (2 vols., VTSup 70; FIOTL 1; Leiden: Brill, 1997).