In my morning reading the text was Isaiah 6:1-7:9. I have read it many times. But today I read the text in the ESV. One verse stood out as awkward English.
Then I said, “How long, O Lord?”
And he said:
“Until cities lie waste
and houses without people,
and the land is a desolate waste,
The bold words are the ones in question. It seems like something is missing, i.e. “cities lie in waste” or “cities lie wasted.” The exact same phrasing occurs in ESV at the following places:
The highways lie waste;
the traveler ceases.
Covenants are broken;
cities are despised;
there is no regard for man.
Night and day it shall not be quenched;
its smoke shall go up forever.
From generation to generation it shall lie waste;
none shall pass through it forever and ever.
Other English Translations
So I checked Isaiah 6:11 in other translations (none of ~30 translations I checked had what ESV has).
NAS (Is. 6:11)
Then I said, “Lord, how long?” And He answered,
“Until cities are devastated and without inhabitant,
Houses are without people
And the land is utterly desolate,
NKJV (Is. 6:11)
Then I said, “Lord, how long?”
And He answered:
“Until the cities are laid waste and without inhabitant,
The houses are without a man,
The land is utterly desolate,
HCSB (Is. 6:11)
Then I said, “Until when, Lord?” And He replied:
Until cities lie in ruins without inhabitants,
houses are without people,
the land is ruined and desolate,
NIV (Is. 6:11)
Then I said, “For how long, Lord?”
And he answered:
“Until the cities lie ruined
and without inhabitant,
until the houses are left deserted
and the fields ruined and ravaged,
NET (Is. 6:11)
I replied, “How long, sovereign master?” He said,
“Until cities are in ruins and unpopulated,
and houses are uninhabited,
and the land is ruined and devastated,
NLT (Is. 6:11)
Then I said, “Lord, how long will this go on?” And he replied,
“Until their towns are empty,
their houses are deserted,
and the whole country is a wasteland;
I have studied the issue of English in translation in many contexts. I think that translations such as God’s Word offers a good example; the translation team had a full time (qualified) English advisor. The task of this advisor was to examine both written and oral choices and offering editing changes. Any of the above translations provide adequate good English style for this text.
I would recommend that the ESV translation team revisit these three Isaiah texts to produce a more meaningful English rendition.