New English Translation
An Ideal King Establishes a Kingdom of Peace
11 A shoot will grow out of Jesse’s[a] root stock,
a bud will sprout[b] from his roots.
2 The Lord’s Spirit will rest on him[c]—
a Spirit that gives extraordinary wisdom,[d]
a Spirit that provides the ability to execute plans,[e]
a Spirit that produces absolute loyalty to the Lord.[f]
3 He will take delight in obeying the Lord.[g]
He will not judge by mere appearances,[h]
or make decisions on the basis of hearsay.[i]
4 He will treat the poor fairly,[j]
and make right decisions[k] for the downtrodden of the earth.[l]
He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,[m]
and order the wicked to be executed.[n]
5 Justice will be like a belt around his waist,
integrity will be like a belt around his hips.[o]
6 A wolf will reside[p] with a lamb,
and a leopard will lie down with a young goat;
an ox and a young lion will graze together,[q]
as a small child leads them along.
- Isaiah 11:1 sn The text mentions David’s father Jesse, instead of the great king himself. Perhaps this is done for rhetorical reasons to suggest that a new David, not just another disappointing Davidic descendant, will arise. Other prophets call the coming ideal Davidic king “David” or picture him as the second coming of David, as it were. See Jer 30:9; Ezek 34:23-24; 37:24-25; Hos 3:5; Mic 5:2 (as well as the note there).
- Isaiah 11:1 tc The Hebrew text has יִפְרֶה (yifreh, “will bear fruit,” from פָּרָה, parah), but the ancient versions, as well as the parallelism suggest that יִפְרַח (yifrakh, “will sprout”, from פָּרַח, parakh) is the better reading here. See J. N. Oswalt, Isaiah (NICOT), 1:276, n. 2.
- Isaiah 11:2 sn Like David (1 Sam 16:13), this king will be energized by the Lord’s Spirit.
- Isaiah 11:2 tn Heb “a spirit of wisdom and understanding.” The synonyms are joined here to emphasize the degree of wisdom he will possess. His wisdom will enable him to make just legal decisions (v. 3). A very similar phrase occurs in Eph 1:17.
- Isaiah 11:2 tn Heb “a spirit of counsel [or “strategy”] and strength.” The construction is a hendiadys; the point is that he will have the strength/ability to execute the plans/strategies he devises. This ability will enable him to suppress oppressors and implement just policies (v. 4).
- Isaiah 11:2 tn Heb “a spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord.” “Knowledge” is used here in its covenantal sense and refers to a recognition of God’s authority and a willingness to submit to it. See Jer 22:16. “Fear” here refers to a healthy respect for God’s authority which produces obedience. Taken together the two terms emphasize the single quality of loyalty to the Lord. This loyalty guarantees that he will make just legal decisions and implement just policies (vv. 4-5).
- Isaiah 11:3 tn The Hebrew text reads literally, “and his smelling is in the fear of the Lord.” In Amos 5:21 the Hiphil of רוּחַ (ruakh, “smell”) carries the nuance of “smell with delight, get pleasure from.” There the Lord declares that he does not “smell with delight” (i.e., get pleasure from) Israel’s religious assemblies, which probably stand by metonymy for the incense offered during these festivals. In Isa 11:3 there is no sacrificial context to suggest such a use, but it is possible that “the fear of the Lord” is likened to incense. This coming king will get the same kind of delight from obeying (fearing) the Lord, as a deity does in the incense offered by worshipers. Some regard such an explanation as strained in this context, and prefer to omit this line from the text as a virtual dittograph of the preceding statement.
- Isaiah 11:3 tn Heb “by what appears to his eyes”; KJV “after the sight of his eyes”; NIV “by what he sees with his eyes.”
- Isaiah 11:3 tn Heb “by what is heard by his ears”; NRSV “by what his ears hear.”
- Isaiah 11:4 tn Heb “with justice” (so NAB) or “with righteousness” (so KJV, NASB, NIV, NRSV).
- Isaiah 11:4 tn Heb “make decisions with rectitude”; cf. ASV, NRSV “and decide with equity.”
- Isaiah 11:4 tn Or “land” (NAB, NCV, CEV). It is uncertain if the passage is picturing universal dominion or focusing on the king’s rule over his covenant people. The reference to God’s “holy mountain” in v. 9 and the description of renewed Israelite conquests in v. 14 suggest the latter, though v. 10 seems to refer to a universal kingdom (see 2:2-4).
- Isaiah 11:4 tc The Hebrew text reads literally, “and he will strike the earth with the scepter of his mouth.” Some have suggested that in this context אֶרֶץ (ʾerets, “earth”) as an object of judgment seems too broad in scope. The parallelism is tighter if one emends the word to ץ(י)עָרִ (ʿarits, “potentate, tyrant”). The phrase “scepter of his mouth” refers to the royal (note “scepter”) decrees that he proclaims with his mouth. Because these decrees will have authority and power (see v. 2) behind them, they can be described as “striking” the tyrants down. Nevertheless, the MT reading may not need emending. Isaiah refers to the entire “earth” as the object of God’s judgment in several places without specifying the wicked as the object of the judgment (Isa 24:17-21; 26:9, 21; 28:22; cf. 13:11).
- Isaiah 11:4 tn Heb “and by the breath of his lips he will kill the wicked.” The “breath of his lips” refers to his speech, specifically in this context his official decrees that the wicked oppressors be eliminated from his realm. See the preceding note.
- Isaiah 11:5 tn Heb “Justice will be the belt [or “undergarment”] on his waist, integrity the belt [or “undergarment”] on his hips.” The point of the metaphor is uncertain. If a belt worn outside the robe is in view, then the point might be that justice/integrity will be readily visible or that these qualities will give support to his rule. If an undergarment is in view, then the idea might be that these characteristics support his rule or that they are basic to everything else.
- Isaiah 11:6 tn The verb גּוּר (gur) normally refers to living as a dependent, resident foreigner in another society.
- Isaiah 11:6 tc The Hebrew text reads, “and an ox, and a young lion, and a fatling together.” Since the preceding lines refer to two animals and include a verb, many emend וּמְרִיא (umeriʾ, “and the fatling”) to an otherwise unattested verb יִמְרְאוּ (yimreʾu, “they will graze”); cf. NAB, TEV, CEV. One of the Qumran copies of Isaiah confirms this suggestion (1QIsaa). The present translation assumes this change.