Why is there a difference in wording in Acts 8 and Isaiah 53?

In Isaiah 53:7 we read, “He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb”; but in Acts 8:32 the order is reversed, and it is said to be “as a sheep led to the slaughter, and like a lamb dumb,” etc. How are we to account for this reversal?

The quotation in Acts is almost word for word from the Septuagint or Greek version, the LXX, as it is described in letters. The word for “sheep” in the Hebrew of Isaiah 53:7 is not the same as that used in verse 6: “All we like sheep (con) have gone astray.” The word here is of frequent occurrence, whereas that in v. 7 (ral.iel) occurs only four times in the whole Old Testament. It comes from an unused root, perhaps the same as rAliam—to cherish—connected with an Arabic root—to have lambs. The word in the first part of the verse, translated “lamb” (sëh), is rendered “sheep” in several passages in the Old Testament. It seems, therefore, that the words employed by the Holy Spirit operating on the mind of Isaiah in this verse 7, are not so precise as to necessitate their rendering in the LXX translation as “lamb” and “sheep,” as they appear in our rendering of Isaiah 53:7, but leave a margin of liberty to reverse the meaning of the words, and put lamb second, and sheep first, as in Acts 8. It is a question of the words used in the Old Testament verse, which as I have said, are not closely defined and of the choice of words by the translators of the Greek version, from which the Eunuch would be reading.

W.H.