Doug Magnum of Biblia Hebraica is not happy with claims NIV 2011 makes for itself. NIV promotes itself as being "easy to understand, yet rich with the detail found in the original Scripture." Magnum counters:
It's as easy to understand as most moderately idiomatic English translations. But I don't understand how they can claim, in all seriousness, to be "rich with the detail found in the original Scripture." The gender-sensitive issue forces a translation that completely suppresses the rich metaphorical detail of the Hebrew in Isaiah 19:16.
I’m willing to credit NIV 2011 with being easy to understand – even when it shouldn’t be – and with being rich in detail derived from translated text. Still, Doug made me curious. How then does NIV render Isa 19:16? Magnum is right: NIV 2011 at Isa 19:16 engages in suppression.
בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא יִהְיֶה מִצְרַיִם כַּנָּשִׁים
וְחָרַד וּפָחַד מִפְּנֵי תְּנוּפַת יַד־יְהוָה צְבָאוֹת
אֲשֶׁר־הוּא מֵנִיף עָלָיו׃
NIV 2011 (formatting is mine):
In that day the Egyptians will become weaklings.
They will shudder with fear at the uplifted hand that the LORD Almighty
raises against them.
A more literal translation, my own:
On that day the people of Egypt will become like women.
They will tremble and panic at the waving of the hand of יהוה of Armies,
the one he is going to wave over them.
NIV 2011, it seems to me, is unfortunate at Isa 19:16. Texts that make use of metaphorical frames are often characterized by development. It is important to capture it in translation. Snapshot 1: The people of Egypt will become like women. Like women In what sense? One must wait for an answer. Perhaps Egypt will be in labor and give birth. Perhaps Egypt will dance. Snapshot 2: Egypt will tremble and panic.
Egypt will not become a nation of weaklings. Rather, Egypt will become like women who panic at the sign of trouble. “Weak as women” (NLT) sounds nice in English; the politically correct "weaklings" (NIV) sounds even better; but, to quote Jorge Luis Borges, the original is unfaithful to the translation.
Peterson's The Message (the formatting is mine; it is designed to facilitate a visual comparison with translations cited above):
On that Day, Egyptians will be like hysterical schoolgirls,
Screaming at the first hint of action from God-of-the-Angel-Armies.
The paraphrase curtails and restructures the whole and takes great liberties with diction. The advantage is comprehensibility. The disadvantage: it is not a translation so much as a riff on a base text. There are no schoolgirls in the Hebrew. There are women who dread what is coming next.
The departures of NIV and The Message from the Hebrew will not matter to readers who believe that the inspiration of an author, biblical, classical, or otherwise, is not verbal in nature, not even thought by thought, but something blob-like, reshapable at will. But what if you want to know what the Hebrew actually says? If you don’t know Hebrew, your best bet is to read the Bible in a literal translation. NASB is remarkably good at Isa 19:16:
In that day the Egyptians will become like women,
and they will tremble and be in dread of the waving of the hand of the LORD of Hosts,
which he is going to wave over them.