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Who is the 'Night Monster' in Isaiah 34:14?


What is translated "night monster" in the ASV and NASB translations?

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ASV & NASB Isaiah 34:14 The desert creatures will meet with the wolves, The hairy goat also will cry to its kind; Yes, the night monster will settle there And will find herself a resting place.

The embarrassing truth is that translators do not know to which creature the Hebrew word refers. This is illustrated by the different translations.

NIV Isaiah 34:14 Desert creatures will meet with hyenas, and wild goats will bleat to each other; there the night creatures will also repose and find for themselves places of rest.

ESV Isaiah 34:14 And wild animals shall meet with hyenas; the wild goat shall cry to his fellow; indeed, there the night bird settles and finds for herself a resting place.

KJV Isaiah 34:14 The wild beasts of the desert shall also meet with the wild beasts of the island, and the satyr shall cry to his fellow; the screech owl also shall rest there, and find for herself a place of rest.

NKJV Isaiah 34:14 The wild beasts of the desert shall also meet with the jackals, And the wild goat shall bleat to its companion; Also the night creature shall rest there, And find for herself a place of rest.

From the KJV using Strong’s concordance and Hebrew lexicon we can see that the Hebrew word is ‘lilith’.

Strong’s no. 03917 ‘lilith’ from 03915 (‘layil’ – night).

The word appears just once in the Old Testament and is believed to be derived from the Hebrew ‘layil’ – night. From this we might conclude that it is a nocturnal animal or bird that inhabits desolate places. For this reason the KJV has gambled on ‘screech owl’. The ESV has gone with the more conservative ‘night bird’ and the NIV and NKJV have chosen the safe option ‘night creature’.

The ASV and the NASB probably feeling that ‘night creature’ wasn’t exciting enough for the American market have gone for the full Hollywood version ‘night monster’. That there are no night ‘monsters’ in Idumea is no barrier to a fertile imagination.

This illustrates nicely the benefit of using a Bible version from which the original language can be accessed via Strong’s concordance and Hebrew and Greek Lexicons. This spares us from the theatrical yearnings and personal axe-grindings of translators.

I hope this helps.
Glenn Smith

 
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