In the Stone Humash (Artscroll), Deut 30:3 is translated: "Then Hashem, your God, will bring back your captivity and have mercy on you, and He will gather you in from the all the peoples to which Hashem, your God, has scattered you."

I find the phrase "bring back your captivity" to be very troubling or, at best, confusing. Is Gd going to return us to captivity, to slavery? That seems to be the plain reading of this English phrase.

That is an unusual translation. See for example: Deuteronomy 30:3.

The 1917 JPS translation (used by Hertz) says: "that then the LORD thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the peoples, whither the LORD thy God hath scattered thee."

Why might Artscroll have used the phrase "bring back your captivity"? and what does the phrase mean, as used? Also, what Hebrew words correspond to that translation?

  • 1
    Also, what Hebrew words correspond to that translation Are you asking for the original Hebrew of the verse?
    – mevaqesh
    Oct 10, 2016 at 3:35
  • Rather than asking hat motivated Artscroll to provide a particular translation, I would personally think that a better question would be how (and why) different commentaries understood the expression in the verse.
    – mevaqesh
    Oct 10, 2016 at 3:37

3 Answers 3


The word "shvut" appears about 20 times in Tanach on its own and 7 more with affixes (starting in Yirmiyahu and going through Tehillim) generally referring to "that which returns to a previous state" [I could give a better definition but I can't find my Klein dictionary] -- captives or people moved away who have to move back. So shvut ami, those who have to return of my people, and shvutecha, yours who have to return are roughly equivalent in that they point to Jews who will be brought back, i.e. those who are currently captives.

The poetic English is employing an obsolete use of the word

"captivity": "obsolete :  a group of captives"


From Rashi's comments on the verse (which are mentioned on the bottom of the English side of the page in the Stone Chumash) it's clear that he understands it to mean that God will return the Jewish people, not the state of captivity. "Captivity" in this context means "those in captivity", as opposed to a state of being captive. The literal translation of the word "shvuscha", however, is "your captivity", and apparently Artscroll elected to go with the literal translation of the word in their translation.

(The first alternate translation you cited is not literal, as there is no Hebrew equivalent of "from" in the verse. In addition, Rashi explains the word "shav" as meaning return, not restore. The JPS translation of "shav" is similarly at odds with Rashi's translation.)

  • 1
    "The literal translation of the word 'shvuscha', however, is 'your captivity'" Nah. It means 'your returning'. Check out other examples in Tanakh: [t Iyov 42:10 um] [t Yirmeyahu 33 um]. Is the land returning from captivity? [t Yechezkel 16:53 um] Is Sodom? Where was Sodom captive?
    – Double AA
    Oct 10, 2016 at 3:51
  • 1
    I don't see anywhere where Rashi defines the word שבותך as captivity.
    – Double AA
    Oct 10, 2016 at 4:01
  • @DoubleAA Nope, all three of the translations cited in the question understand shvuscha as relating to captivity, not meaning 'your returning'.
    – Jay
    Oct 10, 2016 at 4:16
  • Good for them .
    – Double AA
    Oct 10, 2016 at 4:23

We can find a machloket between Onkelos and Yonathan Ben Uziel


וְשָׁב יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ אֶת שְׁבוּתְךָ

Targum Onkelos:

וִיתוּב יְיָ אֱלָהָךְ יָת שְׁבִי גַלְוָתָךְ

Your captivity in exil. Following Rashi the verse says He will come back with you from the captivity in exil. (את it with). Sforno said that it is the Kibuts Galuyot. The diaspora will come back.

Targum Yonathan:

וִיקַבֵּיל מֵימְרֵיהּ בְּרַעֲוָא יַת תְּיוּבְתְּכוֹן

Your return / repatriation. It seems to say that Hashem will accept your return, permitting to return is as to bring you back (the sense may be also to accept the teshuva). bring back -- ושב את. captivity -- שבותך

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .