My missionary daughter has found herself being the teacher in her MTC class. The instructors as well as the other students have a hard time understanding Isaiah. And they are going through the section of Second Nephi where he's quoting Isaiah a lot. So, Hermana Carbette is translating a lot for them.
When she pointed out the differing wording of 2:9
They pointed out the differing wording from Nephi
They had a lot of questions about this. I've found that when there are differences like this, there is an alternate meaning that explains both passages as being correct. I suggested that we take a look at the interlinear Bible (Hebrew) and the Blue Letter Bible to help us out here.
I first assumed that the common interpretation of the verbiage in the KJV simply meant that
This sounds perfectly logical and an acceptable explanation. I theorized that obviously, if you had idols, you would bow down to them. And doing so should bring down the wrath of God. At the same time, if you're bowing down to those idols, then you won't be bowing down to the Lord. No man can serve two masters. So, both translations are true.
The interlinear bible was not helpful to one unfamiliar with Hebrew. Either way could be considered a valid translation depending on what "filler words" you add to the literal word for word translation.
Meanings are rather interesting.
"People" in this context refers to the "common man". We may say "average Joe." It also refers to the lowly rather than the noble or celebrity. Other uses of the word can also mean "mankind."
"Each man" in this context is the "man of worth". We can say "noble" or "celebrity" or something similar.
"Bow down" and "humbles himself" are rather interesting literal translations because other Biblical translations mean something else.
Here are some alternative translations.
There were only a few (aside from the KJV and alternate KJV) which read as the Authorized Version reads. But look at this llist. All of them indicate that the people in question will be COMPELLED to be humble. And we know what Alma said about that.
So, which is it? They are unforgiven, but why? Because they bow down to idols? Or because they Don't bow down to the Lord? I'd say it is both.
Consider celebrities engaging in cancel culture. They, themselves, have been caught up in the web of their own idolatry. They've said a word out of line and have been brought low. Their apologies sound like confessionals begging for their god's forgiveness. And yet, they refuse to bow to the God of Israel.
This led us to reading the next few verses. And this indicates how sometimes, the answer to a forced dichotomy is "both".
It is interesting to note that the Greek translation says the first bolded phrase (sea) the Hebrew says the second (Tarshish). But the Book of Mormon says both.
Now, I have to wonder what the possibility is that an uneducated farm boy (who could barely dictate a well thought out letter) knew about two foreign language translations and decided to combine them into a third translation that he supposedly made up out of whole cloth. What are the chances?