New American Bible (Revised Edition)
I. Isaiah 1—39
A. Indictment of Israel and Judah
1 [a]The vision which Isaiah, son of Amoz, saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.
Accusation and Appeal
2 [b]Hear, O heavens, and listen, O earth,
for the Lord speaks:
Sons have I raised and reared,
but they have rebelled against me!(A)
3 An ox knows its owner,
and an ass,[c] its master’s manger;
But Israel does not know,
my people has not understood.(B)
4 Ah![d] Sinful nation, people laden with wickedness,
evil offspring, corrupt children!
They have forsaken the Lord,
spurned the Holy One of Israel,
5 Why[e] would you yet be struck,
that you continue to rebel?
The whole head is sick,
the whole heart faint.
6 From the sole of the foot to the head
there is no sound spot in it;
Just bruise and welt and oozing wound,
not drained, or bandaged,
or eased with salve.
7 Your country is waste,
your cities burnt with fire;
Your land—before your eyes
strangers devour it,
a waste, like the devastation of Sodom.[f](D)
8 And daughter Zion[g] is left
like a hut in a vineyard,
Like a shed in a melon patch,
like a city blockaded.
9 If the Lord of hosts[h] had not
left us a small remnant,
We would have become as Sodom,
would have resembled Gomorrah.(E)
10 [i]Hear the word of the Lord,
princes of Sodom!
Listen to the instruction of our God,
people of Gomorrah!
11 What do I care for the multitude of your sacrifices?
says the Lord.
I have had enough of whole-burnt rams
and fat of fatlings;
In the blood of calves, lambs, and goats
I find no pleasure.(F)
12 When you come to appear before me,
who asks these things of you?
13 Trample my courts no more!
To bring offerings is useless;
incense is an abomination to me.
New moon and sabbath, calling assemblies—
festive convocations with wickedness—
these I cannot bear.(G)
14 Your new moons and festivals I detest;(H)
they weigh me down, I tire of the load.
15 When you spread out your hands,
I will close my eyes to you;
Though you pray the more,
I will not listen.
Your hands are full of blood![j](I)
16 Wash yourselves clean!
Put away your misdeeds from before my eyes;
cease doing evil;
17 learn to do good.
Make justice your aim: redress the wronged,
hear the orphan’s plea, defend the widow.(J)
18 Come now, let us set things right,[k]
says the Lord:
Though your sins be like scarlet,
they may become white as snow;
Though they be red like crimson,
they may become white as wool.(K)
19 If you are willing, and obey,
you shall eat the good things of the land;
20 But if you refuse and resist,
you shall be eaten by the sword:
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken!
The Purification of Jerusalem
21 How she has become a prostitute,
the faithful city,[l] so upright!
Justice used to lodge within her,
but now, murderers.(L)
22 Your silver is turned to dross,
your wine is mixed with water.
23 Your princes are rebels
and comrades of thieves;
Each one of them loves a bribe
and looks for gifts.
The fatherless they do not defend,
the widow’s plea does not reach them.(M)
24 Now, therefore, says the Lord,
the Lord of hosts, the Mighty One of Israel:
Ah! I will take vengeance on my foes
and fully repay my enemies!(N)
25 I will turn my hand against you,
and refine your dross in the furnace,
removing all your alloy.
26 I will restore your judges[m] as at first,
and your counselors as in the beginning;
After that you shall be called
city of justice, faithful city.(O)
27 [n]Zion shall be redeemed by justice,
and her repentant ones by righteousness.
28 Rebels and sinners together shall be crushed,
those who desert the Lord shall be consumed.
Judgment on the Sacred Groves
29 [o]You shall be ashamed of the terebinths which you desired,
and blush on account of the gardens which you chose.
30 You shall become like a terebinth whose leaves wither,
like a garden that has no water.
31 The strong tree shall turn to tinder,
and the one who tends it shall become a spark;
Both of them shall burn together,
and there shall be none to quench them.
1 [p]This is what Isaiah, son of Amoz, saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
Zion, the Royal City of God
2 [q]In days to come,
The mountain of the Lord’s house
shall be established as the highest mountain
and raised above the hills.
All nations shall stream toward it.(P)
3 Many peoples shall come and say:
“Come, let us go up to the Lord’s mountain,
to the house of the God of Jacob,
That he may instruct us in his ways,
and we may walk in his paths.”(Q)
For from Zion shall go forth instruction,
and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
4 [r]He shall judge between the nations,
and set terms for many peoples.
They shall beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks;(R)
One nation shall not raise the sword against another,
nor shall they train for war again.(S)
5 [s]House of Jacob, come,
let us walk in the light of the Lord!
The Lord’s Day of Judgment on Pride
6 You have abandoned your people,
the house of Jacob!
Because they are filled with diviners,
and soothsayers, like the Philistines;
with foreigners they clasp hands.(T)
7 Their land is full of silver and gold,
there is no end to their treasures;
Their land is full of horses,
there is no end to their chariots.
8 Their land is full of idols;
they bow down to the works of their hands,
what their fingers have made.(U)
9 So all shall be abased,
each one brought low.[t]
Do not pardon them!
10 Get behind the rocks,
hide in the dust,
From the terror of the Lord
and the splendor of his majesty!
11 The eyes of human pride shall be lowered,
the arrogance of mortals shall be abased,
and the Lord alone will be exalted, on that day.[u]
12 For the Lord of hosts will have his day
against all that is proud and arrogant,
against all that is high, and it will be brought low;
13 Yes, against all the cedars of Lebanon[v]
and against all the oaks of Bashan,
14 Against all the lofty mountains
and all the high hills,
15 Against every lofty tower
and every fortified wall,
16 Against all the ships of Tarshish
and all stately vessels.
17 Then human pride shall be abased,
the arrogance of mortals brought low,
And the Lord alone will be exalted on that day.
18 The idols will vanish completely.
19 People will go into caves in the rocks
and into holes in the earth,
At the terror of the Lord
and the splendor of his majesty,
as he rises to overawe the earth.
20 On that day people shall throw to moles and bats
their idols of silver and their idols of gold
which they made for themselves to worship.
21 And they shall go into caverns in the rocks
and into crevices in the cliffs,
At the terror of the Lord
and the splendor of his majesty,
as he rises to overawe the earth.
22 [w]As for you, stop worrying about mortals,
in whose nostrils is but a breath;
for of what worth are they?
Judgment on Jerusalem and Judah
1 [x]The Lord, the Lord of hosts,
will take away from Jerusalem and from Judah
Support and staff—
all support of bread,
all support of water:(V)
2 Hero and warrior,
judge and prophet, diviner and elder,
3 The captain of fifty and the nobleman,
counselor, skilled magician, and expert charmer.
4 I will place boys as their princes;
the fickle will govern them,(W)
5 And the people will oppress one another,
yes, each one the neighbor.
The child will be insolent toward the elder,
and the base toward the honorable.(X)
6 When anyone seizes a brother
in their father’s house, saying,
“You have clothes! Be our ruler,
and take in hand this ruin!”—
7 He will cry out in that day:
“I cannot be a healer,(Y)
when there is neither bread nor clothing in my own house!
You will not make me a ruler of the people!”
8 Jerusalem has stumbled, Judah has fallen;
for their speech and deeds affront the Lord,
a provocation in the sight of his majesty.
9 Their very look bears witness against them;(Z)
they boast of their sin like Sodom,(AA)
They do not hide it.
Woe to them!
They deal out evil to themselves.
10 Happy the just, for it will go well with them,
the fruit of their works they will eat.
11 Woe to the wicked! It will go ill with them,
with the work of their hands they will be repaid.
12 My people—infants oppress them,
women rule over them!
My people, your leaders deceive you,(AB)
they confuse the paths you should follow.
13 [y]The Lord rises to accuse,
stands to try his people.
14 The Lord enters into judgment
with the people’s elders and princes:
You, you who have devoured the vineyard;
the loot wrested from the poor is in your houses.
15 What do you mean by crushing my people,
and grinding down the faces of the poor?
says the Lord, the God of hosts.
The Haughty Women of Zion[z]
16 The Lord said:(AC)
Because the daughters of Zion are haughty,
and walk with necks outstretched,
Ogling and mincing as they go,
their anklets tinkling with every step,
17 The Lord shall cover the scalps of Zion’s daughters with scabs,
and the Lord shall lay bare their heads.[aa](AD)
18 [ab]On that day the Lord will do away with the finery of the anklets, sunbursts, and crescents; 19 the pendants, bracelets, and veils; 20 the headdresses, bangles, cinctures, perfume boxes, and amulets; 21 the signet rings, and the nose rings; 22 the court dresses, wraps, cloaks, and purses; 23 the lace gowns, linen tunics, turbans, and shawls.
24 Instead of perfume there will be stench,
instead of a girdle, a rope,
And instead of elaborate coiffure, baldness;
instead of a rich gown, a sackcloth skirt.
Then, instead of beauty, shame.
25 Your men will fall by the sword,
and your champions,[ac] in war;(AE)
26 Her gates will lament and mourn,
as the city sits desolate on the ground.(AF)
1 Seven women will take hold of one man[ad]
on that day, saying:
“We will eat our own food
and wear our own clothing;
Only let your name be given us,
put an end to our disgrace!”
2 [ae]On that day,
The branch[af] of the Lord will be beauty and glory,
and the fruit of the land will be honor and splendor
for the survivors of Israel.
3 Everyone who remains in Zion,
everyone left in Jerusalem
Will be called holy:
everyone inscribed for life[ag] in Jerusalem.(AG)
4 When the Lord washes away
the filth of the daughters of Zion,
And purges Jerusalem’s blood from her midst
with a blast of judgment, a searing blast,(AH)
5 Then will the Lord create,
over the whole site of Mount Zion
and over her place of assembly,
A smoking cloud by day
and a light of flaming fire by night.(AI)
6 For over all, his glory will be shelter and protection:
shade from the parching heat of day,
refuge and cover from storm and rain.(AJ)
The Song of the Vineyard[ah]
1 Now let me sing of my friend,
my beloved’s song about his vineyard.
My friend had a vineyard
on a fertile hillside;
2 He spaded it, cleared it of stones,
and planted the choicest vines;
Within it he built a watchtower,
and hewed out a wine press.
Then he waited for the crop of grapes,
but it yielded rotten grapes.(AK)
3 Now, inhabitants of Jerusalem, people of Judah,
judge between me and my vineyard:
4 What more could be done for my vineyard
that I did not do?(AL)
Why, when I waited for the crop of grapes,
did it yield rotten grapes?
5 Now, I will let you know
what I am going to do to my vineyard:
Take away its hedge, give it to grazing,
break through its wall, let it be trampled![ai]
6 Yes, I will make it a ruin:
it shall not be pruned or hoed,
but will be overgrown with thorns and briers;
I will command the clouds
not to rain upon it.
7 The vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel,
the people of Judah, his cherished plant;
He waited for judgment, but see, bloodshed!
for justice, but hark, the outcry![aj]
Oracles of Reproach[ak]
8 [al]Ah! Those who join house to house,
who connect field with field,
Until no space remains, and you alone dwell
in the midst of the land!(AM)
9 In my hearing the Lord of hosts has sworn:(AN)
Many houses shall be in ruins,
houses large and fine, with nobody living there.(AO)
10 Ten acres of vineyard
shall yield but one bath,[am]
And a homer of seed
shall yield but an ephah.
11 [an]Ah! Those who rise early in the morning
in pursuit of strong drink,
inflamed by wine,
12 Banqueting on wine with harp and lyre,
timbrel and flute,(AP)
But the deed of the Lord they do not regard,
the work of his hands they do not see!(AQ)
13 Therefore my people go into exile
for lack of understanding,(AR)
Its nobles starving,
its masses parched with thirst.
14 Therefore Sheol enlarges its throat
and opens its mouth beyond measure;(AS)
Down into it go nobility and masses,
tumult and revelry.
15 All shall be abased, each one brought low,
and the eyes of the haughty lowered,(AT)
16 But the Lord of hosts shall be exalted by judgment,
by justice the Holy God shown holy.(AU)
17 Lambs shall graze as at pasture,
young goats shall eat in the ruins of the rich.
18 Ah! Those who tug at guilt with cords of perversity,
and at sin as if with cart ropes!
19 [ao]Who say, “Let him make haste,
let him speed his work, that we may see it;
On with the plan of the Holy One of Israel!
let it come to pass, that we may know it!”(AV)
20 Ah! Those who call evil good, and good evil,
who change darkness to light, and light into darkness,
who change bitter to sweet, and sweet into bitter!(AW)
21 Ah! Those who are wise in their own eyes,
prudent in their own view!(AX)
22 Ah! Those who are champions at drinking wine,
masters at mixing drink!
23 Those who acquit the guilty for bribes,
and deprive the innocent of justice!(AY)
24 Therefore, as the tongue of fire licks up stubble,
as dry grass shrivels in the flame,
Their root shall rot
and their blossom scatter like dust;
For they have rejected the instruction of the Lord of hosts,
and scorned the word of the Holy One of Israel.
25 [ap]Therefore the wrath of the Lord blazes against his people,
he stretches out his hand to strike them;
The mountains quake,(AZ)
their corpses shall be like refuse in the streets.
For all this, his wrath is not turned back,
his hand is still outstretched.
26 He will raise a signal to a far-off nation,
and whistle for it from the ends of the earth.(BA)
Then speedily and promptly they will come.
27 None among them is weary, none stumbles,
none will slumber, none will sleep.
None with waist belt loose,
none with sandal thong broken.
28 Their arrows are sharp,
and all their bows are bent,
The hooves of their horses like flint,
and their chariot wheels like the whirlwind.
29 They roar like the lion,
like young lions, they roar;
They growl and seize the prey,
they carry it off and none can rescue.
30 They will growl over it, on that day,
like the growling of the sea,
Look to the land—
darkness closing in,
the light dark with clouds!(BB)
B. The Book of Emmanuel
The Sending of Isaiah. 1 In the year King Uzziah died,[ar] I saw the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne,(BC) with the train of his garment filling the temple. 2 Seraphim[as] were stationed above; each of them had six wings: with two they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they hovered.(BD) 3 One cried out to the other:
“Holy, holy, holy[at] is the Lord of hosts!
All the earth is filled with his glory!”
5 Then I said, “Woe is me, I am doomed![av] For I am a man of unclean lips, living among a people of unclean lips,(BF) and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” 6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me, holding an ember which he had taken with tongs from the altar.
8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?” “Here I am,” I said; “send me!” 9 [ax]And he replied: Go and say to this people:
Listen carefully, but do not understand!
Look intently, but do not perceive!(BH)
10 Make the heart of this people sluggish,
dull their ears and close their eyes;
Lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears,
and their heart understand,
and they turn and be healed.(BI)
11 “How long, O Lord?” I asked. And he replied:
[ay] Until the cities are desolate,
Houses, without people,
and the land is a desolate waste.
12 Until the Lord sends the people far away,
and great is the desolation in the midst of the land.
13 If there remain a tenth part in it,
then this in turn shall be laid waste;
As with a terebinth or an oak
whose trunk remains when its leaves have fallen.[az](BJ)
Holy offspring is the trunk.
The Syro-Ephraimite War[ba]
Crisis in Judah. 1 In the days of Ahaz,[bb] king of Judah, son of Jotham, son of Uzziah, Rezin, king of Aram, and Pekah, king of Israel, son of Remaliah, went up to attack Jerusalem, but they were not able to conquer it.(BK) 2 When word came to the house of David that Aram had allied itself with Ephraim, the heart of the king and heart of the people trembled, as the trees of the forest tremble in the wind.
3 Then the Lord said to Isaiah: Go out to meet Ahaz, you and your son Shear-jashub,[bc] at the end of the conduit of the upper pool, on the highway to the fuller’s field, 4 and say to him: Take care you remain calm and do not fear; do not let your courage fail before these two stumps of smoldering brands,(BL) the blazing anger of Rezin and the Arameans and of the son of Remaliah— 5 because Aram, with Ephraim and the son of Remaliah, has planned[bd] evil against you. They say, 6 “Let us go up against Judah, tear it apart, make it our own by force, and appoint the son of Tabeel[be] king there.”
7 Thus says the Lord God:
It shall not stand, it shall not be!(BM)
8 [bf]The head of Aram is Damascus,
and the head of Damascus is Rezin;
9 The head of Ephraim is Samaria,
and the head of Samaria is the son of Remaliah.
Within sixty-five years,
Ephraim shall be crushed, no longer a nation.
Unless your faith is firm,
you shall not be firm!(BN)
Emmanuel. 10 Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz: 11 Ask for a sign from the Lord, your God; let it be deep as Sheol, or high as the sky![bg] 12 But Ahaz answered, “I will not ask! I will not tempt the Lord!”[bh] 13 Then he said: Listen, house of David! Is it not enough that you weary human beings? Must you also weary my God? 14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign;[bi] the young woman, pregnant and about to bear a son, shall name him Emmanuel. 15 Curds and honey[bj] he will eat so that he may learn to reject evil and choose good; 16 for before the child learns to reject evil and choose good, the land of those two kings whom you dread shall be deserted.
17 The Lord shall bring upon you and your people and your father’s house such days as have not come since Ephraim seceded[bk] from Judah (the king of Assyria). 18 On that day
The Lord shall whistle
for the fly in the farthest streams of Egypt,
and for the bee in the land of Assyria.(BO)
19 All of them shall come and settle
in the steep ravines and in the rocky clefts,
on all thornbushes and in all pastures.
21 On that day a man shall keep alive a young cow or a couple of sheep, 22 and from their abundant yield of milk he shall eat curds; curds and honey shall be the food of all who are left in the land. 23 [bm]On that day every place where there were a thousand vines worth a thousand pieces of silver shall become briers and thorns. 24 One shall have to go there with bow and arrows, for all the country shall be briers and thorns.(BQ) 25 But as for all the hills which were hoed with a mattock, for fear of briers and thorns you will not go there; they shall become a place for cattle to roam and sheep to trample.(BR)
A Son of Isaiah. 1 The Lord said to me: Take a large tablet, and inscribe on it with an ordinary stylus,[bn] “belonging to Maher-shalal-hash-baz,”(BS) 2 and call reliable witnesses[bo] for me, Uriah the priest, and Zechariah, son of Jeberechiah.
3 Then I went to the prophetess and she conceived and bore a son. The Lord said to me: Name him Maher-shalal-hash-baz, 4 for before the child learns to say, “My father, my mother,” the wealth of Damascus and the spoils of Samaria shall be carried off by the king of Assyria.
The Choice: The Lord or Assyria. 5 Again the Lord spoke to me:
6 Because this people[bp] has rejected
the waters of Shiloah that flow gently,
And melts with fear at the display of Rezin and Remaliah’s son,
7 Therefore the Lord is bringing up against them
the waters of the River, great and mighty,
the king of Assyria and all his glory.
It shall rise above all its channels,
and overflow all its banks.
8 It shall roll on into Judah,
it shall rage and pass on—
up to the neck it shall reach.(BT)
But his outspread wings will fill
the width of your land, Emmanuel!
9 Band together, O peoples, but be shattered!
Give ear, all you distant lands!
Arm yourselves, but be shattered! Arm yourselves, but be shattered!
10 Form a plan, it shall be thwarted;
make a resolve, it shall not be carried out,
for “With us is God!”[bq](BU)
Disciples of Isaiah. 11 For thus said the Lord—his hand strong upon me—warning me not to walk in the way of this people:
12 [br]Do not call conspiracy what this people calls conspiracy,
nor fear what they fear, nor feel dread.
13 But conspire with the Lord of hosts;
he shall be your fear, he shall be your dread.(BV)
14 He shall be a snare,
a stone for injury,
A rock for stumbling
to both the houses of Israel,
A trap and a snare
to those who dwell in Jerusalem;(BW)
15 And many among them shall stumble;
fallen and broken;
snared and captured.(BX)
16 Bind up my testimony, seal the instruction with my disciples.[bs] 17 I will trust in the Lord, who is hiding his face from the house of Jacob; yes, I will wait for him. 18 Here am I and the children whom the Lord has given me: we are signs[bt] and portents in Israel from the Lord of hosts, who dwells on Mount Zion.(BY)
19 And when they say to you, “Inquire of ghosts and soothsayers who chirp and mutter;[bu](BZ) should not a people inquire of their gods, consulting the dead on behalf of the living, 20 for instruction and testimony?” Surely, those who speak like this are the ones for whom there is no dawn.[bv]
21 He will pass through it hard-pressed and hungry,
and when hungry, shall become enraged,
and curse king and gods.
He will look upward,
22 and will gaze at the earth,
But will see only distress and darkness,
murky, without light.[bw]
The Promise of Salvation Under a New Davidic King.[bx] 23 There is no gloom where there had been distress. Where once he degraded the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, now he has glorified the way of the Sea, the land across the Jordan, Galilee of the Nations.[by]
1 The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
Upon those who lived in a land of gloom
a light has shone.(CA)
2 You have brought them abundant joy
and great rejoicing;
They rejoice before you as people rejoice at harvest,
as they exult when dividing the spoils.
3 For the yoke that burdened them,
the pole on their shoulder,
The rod of their taskmaster,
you have smashed, as on the day of Midian.[bz](CB)
4 For every boot that tramped in battle,
every cloak rolled in blood,
will be burned as fuel for fire.(CC)
5 For a child[ca] is born to us, a son is given to us;
upon his shoulder dominion rests.
They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero,(CD)
Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.
6 His dominion is vast
and forever peaceful,
Upon David’s throne, and over his kingdom,
which he confirms and sustains
By judgment and justice,
both now and forever.(CE)
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this!
Judgment on the Northern Kingdom[cb]
7 The Lord has sent a word against Jacob,
and it falls upon Israel;
8 And all the people know it—
Ephraim and those who dwell in Samaria—
those who say in arrogance and pride of heart,
9 “Bricks have fallen,
but we will rebuild with cut stone;
Sycamores have been felled,
but we will replace them with cedars.”(CF)
10 So the Lord raises up their foes against them
and stirs up their enemies to action—
11 Aram[cc] from the east and the Philistines from the west—
they devour Israel with open mouth.
For all this, his wrath is not turned back,
and his hand is still outstretched!
12 The people do not turn back to the one who struck them,
nor do they seek the Lord of hosts.
13 So the Lord cuts off from Israel head and tail,
palm branch and reed in one day.(CG)
14 (The elder and the noble are the head,
the prophet who teaches falsehood is the tail.)(CH)
15 Those who lead this people lead them astray,
and those who are led are swallowed up.(CI)
16 That is why the Lord does not spare their young men,
and their orphans and widows he does not pity;
For they are totally impious and wicked,
and every mouth speaks folly.
For all this, his wrath is not turned back,
his hand is still outstretched!
17 For wickedness burns like fire,
devouring brier and thorn;
It kindles the forest thickets,
which go up in columns of smoke.(CJ)
18 At the wrath of the Lord of hosts the land quakes,
and the people are like fuel for fire;
no one spares his brother.(CK)
19 They hack on the right, but remain hungry;
they devour on the left, but are not filled.
Each devours the flesh of the neighbor;
20 Manasseh devours Ephraim,[cd] and Ephraim Manasseh,
together they turn on Judah.
For all this, his wrath is not turned back,
his hand is still outstretched!
Perversion of Justice
1 [ce]Ah! Those who enact unjust statutes,
who write oppressive decrees,(CL)
2 Depriving the needy of judgment,
robbing my people’s poor of justice,
Making widows their plunder,
and orphans their prey!(CM)
3 What will you do on the day of punishment,
when the storm comes from afar?
To whom will you flee for help?
Where will you leave your wealth,
4 Lest it sink beneath the captive
or fall beneath the slain?
For all this, his wrath is not turned back,
his hand is still outstretched![cf]
Judgment on Assyria
5 [cg]Ah! Assyria, the rod of my wrath,
the staff I wield in anger.(CN)
6 Against an impious nation[ch] I send him,
and against a people under my wrath I order him
To seize plunder, carry off loot,
and to trample them like the mud of the street.
7 But this is not what he intends,
nor does he have this in mind;
Rather, it is in his heart to destroy,
to make an end of not a few nations.
8 For he says, “Are not my commanders all kings?”
9 [ci]“Is not Calno like Carchemish,
Or Hamath like Arpad,
or Samaria like Damascus?
10 Just as my hand reached out to idolatrous kingdoms
that had more images than Jerusalem and Samaria—
11 Just as I treated Samaria and her idols,
shall I not do to Jerusalem and her graven images?”
12 But when the Lord has brought to an end all his work on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem,
I will punish the utterance
of the king of Assyria’s proud heart,
and the boastfulness of his haughty eyes.
13 For he says:
“By my own power I have done it,
and by my wisdom, for I am shrewd.
I have moved the boundaries of peoples,
their treasures I have pillaged,
and, like a mighty one, I have brought down the enthroned.
14 My hand has seized, like a nest,
the wealth of nations.
As one takes eggs left alone,
so I took in all the earth;
No one fluttered a wing,
or opened a mouth, or chirped!”
15 Will the ax boast against the one who hews with it?
Will the saw exalt itself above the one who wields it?
As if a rod could sway the one who lifts it,
or a staff could lift the one who is not wood!
16 Therefore the Lord, the Lord of hosts,
will send leanness among his fat ones,[cj]
And under his glory there will be a kindling
like the kindling of fire.(CO)
17 The Light of Israel will become a fire,
the Holy One, a flame,
That burns and consumes its briers
and its thorns in a single day.(CP)
18 And the glory of its forests and orchards
will be consumed, soul and body,
and it will be like a sick man who wastes away.
19 And the remnant of the trees in his forest
will be so few,
that any child can record them.
20 On that day
The remnant of Israel,
the survivors of the house of Jacob,
will no more lean upon the one who struck them;
But they will lean upon the Lord,
the Holy One of Israel, in truth.
21 A remnant will return,[ck] the remnant of Jacob,
to the mighty God.
22 Though your people, O Israel,
were like the sand of the sea,(CQ)
Only a remnant of them will return;
their destruction is decreed,
as overflowing justice demands.(CR)
23 For the Lord, the God of hosts, is about to carry out the destruction decreed in the midst of the whole land.(CS)
24 [cl]Therefore thus says the Lord, the God of hosts: My people, who dwell in Zion, do not fear the Assyrian, though he strikes you with a rod, and raises his staff against you as did the Egyptians. 25 For just a brief moment more, and my wrath shall be over, and my anger shall be set for their destruction. 26 Then the Lord of hosts will raise against them a scourge such as struck Midian at the rock of Oreb;(CT) and he will raise his staff over the sea as he did in Egypt.(CU) 27 On that day,
His burden shall be taken from your shoulder,
and his yoke shattered from your neck.(CV)
The March of an Enemy Army[cm]
He has come up from Rimmon,
28 he has reached Aiath, passed through Migron,
at Michmash he has stored his supplies.
29 He has crossed the ravine,
at Geba he has camped for the night.
Gibeah of Saul has fled.
30 Cry and shriek, Bath-Gallim!
Hearken, Laishah! Answer her, Anathoth!
31 Madmenah is in flight,
the inhabitants of Gebim seek refuge.
32 Even today he will halt at Nob,
he will shake his fist at the mount of daughter Zion,
the hill of Jerusalem!
33 [cn]Now the Lord, the Lord of hosts,
is about to lop off the boughs with terrible violence;
The tall of stature shall be felled,
and the lofty ones shall be brought low;
34 He shall hack down the forest thickets with an ax,
and Lebanon in its splendor shall fall.
The Ideal Davidic King[cp]
1 But a shoot shall sprout from the stump[cq] of Jesse,
and from his roots a bud shall blossom.(CW)
2 [cr]The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him:(CX)
a spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
A spirit of counsel and of strength,
a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the Lord,
3 and his delight shall be the fear of the Lord.
Not by appearance shall he judge,
nor by hearsay shall he decide,
4 But he shall judge the poor with justice,
and decide fairly for the land’s afflicted.(CY)
He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked.(CZ)
5 Justice shall be the band around his waist,
and faithfulness a belt upon his hips.(DA)
6 [cs]Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat;
The calf and the young lion shall browse together,
with a little child to guide them.(DB)
7 The cow and the bear shall graze,
together their young shall lie down;
the lion shall eat hay like the ox.(DC)
8 The baby shall play by the viper’s den,
and the child lay his hand on the adder’s lair.
9 They shall not harm or destroy on all my holy mountain;
for the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the Lord,
as water covers the sea.
10 On that day,
The root of Jesse,
set up as a signal for the peoples—
Him the nations will seek out;
his dwelling shall be glorious.(DD)
11 On that day,
The Lord shall again take it in hand
to reclaim the remnant of his people
that is left from Assyria and Egypt,
Pathros, Ethiopia, and Elam,
Shinar, Hamath, and the isles of the sea.(DE)
12 He shall raise a signal to the nations(DF)
and gather the outcasts of Israel;
The dispersed of Judah he shall assemble
from the four corners of the earth.
13 The envy of Ephraim shall pass away,
and those hostile to Judah shall be cut off;
Ephraim shall not envy Judah,
and Judah shall not be hostile to Ephraim;
14 But they shall swoop down on the foothills
of the Philistines to the west,
together they shall plunder the people of the east;[cu]
Edom and Moab shall be their possessions,
and the Ammonites their subjects.
15 The Lord shall dry up the tongue[cv] of the Sea of Egypt,
and wave his hand over the Euphrates with his fierce wind,
And divide it into seven streamlets,
so that it can be crossed in sandals.(DG)
16 There shall be a highway for the remnant of his people
that is left from Assyria,
As there was for Israel
when it came up from the land of Egypt.(DH)
Song of Thanksgiving[cw]
1 On that day, you will say:
I give you thanks, O Lord;
though you have been angry with me,
your anger has abated, and you have consoled me.
2 God indeed is my salvation;
I am confident and unafraid.
For the Lord is my strength and my might,
and he has been my salvation.(DI)
3 With joy you will draw water
from the fountains of salvation,(DJ)
4 And you will say on that day:
give thanks to the Lord, acclaim his name;
Among the nations make known his deeds,
proclaim how exalted is his name.(DK)
5 Sing praise to the Lord for he has done glorious things;
let this be known throughout all the earth.(DL)
6 Shout with exultation, City of Zion,
for great in your midst
is the Holy One of Israel!(DM)
C. Oracles Against the Foreign Nations[cx]
2 Upon the bare mountains set up a signal;
cry out to them,[da]
Beckon for them to enter
the gates of the nobles.(DN)
3 I have commanded my consecrated ones,[db]
I have summoned my warriors,
eager and bold to carry out my anger.(DO)
4 Listen! the rumble on the mountains:
that of an immense throng!
Listen! the noise of kingdoms, nations assembled!
The Lord of hosts is mustering
an army for battle.(DP)
5 They come from a far-off country,
and from the end of the heavens,
The Lord and the instruments of his wrath,
to destroy all the land.
6 Howl, for the day of the Lord[dc] is near;
as destruction from the Almighty it comes.(DQ)
7 Therefore all hands fall helpless,(DR)
every human heart melts,
8 and they are terrified,
Pangs and sorrows take hold of them,
like a woman in labor they writhe;
They look aghast at each other,
their faces aflame.(DS)
9 Indeed, the day of the Lord comes,
cruel, with wrath and burning anger;
To lay waste the land
and destroy the sinners within it!(DT)
10 The stars of the heavens and their constellations
will send forth no light;
The sun will be dark at its rising,
and the moon will not give its light.(DU)
11 Thus I will punish the world for its evil
and the wicked for their guilt.
I will put an end to the pride of the arrogant,
the insolence of tyrants I will humble.(DV)
12 I will make mortals more rare than pure gold,
human beings, than the gold of Ophir.[dd](DW)
13 For this I will make the heavens tremble
and the earth shall be shaken from its place,
At the wrath of the Lord of hosts
on the day of his burning anger.(DX)
14 Like a hunted gazelle,
or a flock that no one gathers,
They shall turn each to their own people
and flee each to their own land.(DY)
15 Everyone who is taken shall be run through;
and everyone who is caught shall fall by the sword.
16 Their infants shall be dashed to pieces in their sight;
their houses shall be plundered
and their wives ravished.(DZ)
17 I am stirring up against them the Medes,
who think nothing of silver
and take no delight in gold.(EA)
18 With their bows they shall shatter the young men,
And the fruit of the womb they shall not spare,
nor shall their eye take pity on children.
19 And Babylon, the jewel of kingdoms,
the glory and pride of the Chaldeans,
Shall become like Sodom and Gomorrah,
overthrown by God.(EB)
20 It shall never be inhabited,
nor dwelt in, from age to age;
Arabians shall not pitch their tents there,
nor shepherds rest their flocks there.(EC)
21 But desert demons shall rest there
and owls shall fill the houses;
There ostriches shall dwell,
and satyrs[de] shall dance.(ED)
22 Wild dogs shall dwell in its castles,
and jackals in its luxurious palaces.
Its time is near at hand
and its days shall not be prolonged.(EE)
Restoration of Israel. 1 But the Lord will take pity on Jacob and again choose Israel, and will settle them on their own land; foreigners will join them and attach themselves to the house of Jacob.(EF) 2 The nations will take them and bring them to their place, and the house of Israel will possess them[df] as male and female slaves on the Lord’s land; they will take captive their captors and rule over their oppressors.(EG)
Downfall of the King of Babylon. 3 On the day when the Lord gives you rest from your sorrow and turmoil, from the hard service with which you served,(EH) 4 you will take up this taunt-song[dg] against the king of Babylon:(EI)
How the oppressor has come to an end!
how the turmoil has ended!
5 The Lord has broken the rod of the wicked,
the staff of the tyrants(EJ)
6 That struck the peoples in wrath
with relentless blows;
That ruled the nations in anger,
with boundless persecution.(EK)
7 The whole earth rests peacefully,
song breaks forth;
8 The very cypresses rejoice over you,
the cedars of Lebanon:
“Now that you are laid to rest,
no one comes to cut us down.”(EL)
9 Below, Sheol is all astir
preparing for your coming;
Awakening the shades to greet you,
all the leaders of the earth;
Making all the kings of the nations
rise from their thrones.
10 All of them speak out
and say to you,
“You too have become weak like us,
you are just like us!
11 Down to Sheol your pomp is brought,
the sound of your harps.
Maggots are the couch beneath you,
worms your blanket.”(EM)
12 How you have fallen from the heavens,
O Morning Star,[dh] son of the dawn!
How you have been cut down to the earth,
you who conquered nations!(EN)
13 In your heart you said:
“I will scale the heavens;
Above the stars of God[di]
I will set up my throne;
I will take my seat on the Mount of Assembly,
on the heights of Zaphon.(EO)
14 I will ascend above the tops of the clouds;
I will be like the Most High!”(EP)
15 No! Down to Sheol you will be brought
to the depths of the pit!(EQ)
16 When they see you they will stare,
pondering over you:
“Is this the man who made the earth tremble,
who shook kingdoms?
17 Who made the world a wilderness,
razed its cities,
and gave captives no release?”
18 All the kings of the nations lie in glory,
each in his own tomb;(ER)
19 But you are cast forth without burial,
like loathsome carrion,
Covered with the slain, with those struck by the sword,
a trampled corpse,
Going down to the very stones of the pit.(ES)
20 You will never be together with them in the grave,
For you have ruined your land,
you have slain your people!
Let him never be named,
that offshoot of evil!
21 Make ready to slaughter his sons
for the guilt of their fathers;(ET)
Lest they rise and possess the earth,
and fill the breadth of the world with cities.[dj]
22 I will rise up against them, says the Lord of hosts, and cut off from Babylon name and remnant, progeny and offspring, says the Lord.(EU) 23 I will make it a haunt of hoot owls and a marshland; I will sweep it with the broom of destruction, oracle of the Lord of hosts.
God’s Plan for Assyria[dk]
24 The Lord of hosts has sworn:
As I have resolved,
so shall it be;
As I have planned,
so shall it stand:
25 To break the Assyrian in my land
and trample him on my mountains;
Then his yoke shall be removed from them,
and his burden from their shoulder.(EV)
26 This is the plan proposed for the whole earth,
and this the hand outstretched over all the nations.[dl]
27 The Lord of hosts has planned;
who can thwart him?
His hand is stretched out;
who can turn it back?(EW)
29 [do]Do not rejoice, Philistia, not one of you,
that the rod which struck you is broken;
For out of the serpent’s root shall come an adder,
its offspring shall be a flying saraph.
30 In my pastures the poor shall graze,
and the needy lie down in safety;
But I will kill your root with famine
that shall slay even your remnant.
31 Howl, O gate; cry out, O city!
Philistia, all of you melts away!
For there comes a smoke from the north,[dp]
without a straggler in its ranks.
32 What will one answer the messengers of the nations?[dq]
“The Lord has established Zion,
and in her the afflicted of his people find refuge.”
1 Oracle on Moab:
Laid waste in a night,
Ar of Moab is destroyed;
Laid waste in a night,
Kir of Moab is destroyed.
2 Daughter Dibon has gone up
to the high places to weep;
Over Nebo and over Medeba
Moab is wailing.
Every head is shaved,
every beard sheared off.[ds](EX)
3 In the streets they wear sackcloth,
and on the rooftops;
In the squares
everyone wails, streaming with tears.(EY)
4 Heshbon and Elealeh cry out,
they are heard as far as Jahaz.
At this the loins of Moab tremble,
his soul quivers within him;(EZ)
5 My heart cries out for Moab,
his fugitives reach Zoar,
The ascent of Luhith
they ascend weeping;
On the way to Horonaim
they utter rending cries;(FA)
6 The waters of Nimrim
have become a waste,
The grass is withered,
new growth is gone,
nothing is green.
7 So now whatever they have acquired or stored away
they carry across the Wadi of the Poplars.
8 The cry has gone round
the territory of Moab;
As far as Eglaim his wailing,
even at Beer-elim his wailing.
9 [dt]The waters of Dimon are filled with blood,
but I will bring still more upon Dimon:
Lions for those who are fleeing from Moab
and for those who remain in the land!
1 Send them forth,[du] hugging the earth like reptiles,
from Sela across the desert,
to the mount of daughter Zion.
2 Like flushed birds,
like scattered nestlings,
Are the daughters of Moab
at the fords of the Arnon.[dv](FB)
3 [dw]Offer counsel, take their part;
at high noon make your shade like the night;
Hide the outcasts,
do not betray the fugitives.
4 Let the outcasts of Moab live with you,
be their shelter from the destroyer.
When there is an end to the oppressor,
when destruction has ceased,
and the marauders have vanished from the land,
5 A throne shall be set up in mercy,
and on it shall sit in fidelity,
in David’s tent,
A judge upholding right,
prompt to do justice.(FC)
6 We have heard of the pride of Moab,
how very proud he is,
Of his haughtiness, pride, and arrogance
that his empty words do not match.(FD)
7 [dx]Therefore let Moab wail,
let everyone wail for Moab;
For the raisin cakes[dy] of Kir-hareseth
let them sigh, stricken with grief.
8 The terraced slopes of Heshbon languish,
the vines of Sibmah,
Whose clusters once overpowered
the lords of nations,
Reaching as far as Jazer
winding through the wilderness,[dz]
Whose branches spread forth,
crossing over the sea.
9 Therefore I weep with Jazer
for the vines of Sibmah;
I drench you with my tears,
Heshbon and Elealeh;
For on your summer fruits and harvests
the battle cry[ea] has fallen.(FE)
10 From the orchards are taken away
joy and gladness,
In the vineyards there is no singing,
no shout of joy;
In the wine presses no one treads grapes,
the vintage shout is stilled.(FF)
11 Therefore for Moab
my heart moans like a lyre,
my inmost being for Kir-hareseth.(FG)
12 [eb]When Moab wears himself out on the high places,
and enters his sanctuary to pray,
it shall avail him nothing.(FH)
13 [ec]That is the word the Lord spoke against Moab in times past. 14 But now the Lord speaks: In three years, like the years of a hired laborer, the glory of Moab shall be empty despite all its great multitude; and the remnant shall be very small and weak.(FI)
1 Oracle on Damascus:[ed]
See, Damascus shall cease to be a city
and become a pile of ruins;(FJ)
2 Her cities shall be forever abandoned,
for flocks to lie in undisturbed.
3 The fortress shall vanish from Ephraim[ee]
and dominion from Damascus;
The remnant of Aram shall become like the glory
of the Israelites—
oracle of the Lord of hosts.
4 On that day
The glory of Jacob shall fade,
and his full body shall grow thin.(FK)
5 Like the reaper’s mere armful of stalks,
when he gathers the standing grain;
Or as when one gleans the ears
in the Valley of Rephaim.[ef]
6 [eg]Only gleanings shall be left in it,
as when an olive tree has been beaten—
Two or three olives at the very top,
four or five on its most fruitful branches—
oracle of the Lord, the God of Israel.(FL)
7 On that day people shall turn to their maker,
their eyes shall look to the Holy One of Israel.(FM)
8 They shall not turn to the altars, the work of their hands,
nor shall they look to what their fingers have made:
the asherahs[eh] or the incense stands.
9 On that day his strong cities shall be
like those abandoned by the Hivites and Amorites
When faced with the Israelites;
and there shall be desolation.(FN)
10 Truly, you have forgotten the God who saves you,
the Rock, your refuge, you have not remembered.(FO)
Therefore, though you plant plants for the Pleasant One,[ei]
and set out cuttings for a foreign one,(FP)
11 Though you make them grow the day you plant them
and make them blossom the morning you set them out,
The harvest shall disappear on a day of sickness
and incurable pain.
12 Ah! the roaring of many peoples—[ej]
a roar like the roar of the seas!
The thundering of nations—
thunder like the thundering of mighty waters!(FQ)
13 [ek]But God shall rebuke them,
and they shall flee far away,
Driven like chaff on the mountains before a wind,
like tumbleweed before a storm.(FR)
14 At evening, there is terror,
but before morning, they are gone!
Such is the portion of those who despoil us,
the lot of those who plunder us.(FS)
1 Ah! Land of buzzing insects,[el]
beyond the rivers of Ethiopia,(FT)
2 Sending ambassadors by sea,
in papyrus boats on the waters!
Go, swift messengers,
to a nation tall and bronzed,
To a people dreaded near and far,
a nation strong and conquering,
whose land is washed by rivers.(FU)
3 [em]All you who inhabit the world,
who dwell on earth,
When the signal is raised on the mountain, look!
When the trumpet blows, listen!
4 For thus says the Lord to me:
I will be quiet, looking on from where I dwell,(FV)
Like the shimmering heat in sunshine,
like a cloud of dew at harvest time.
5 Before the vintage, when the flowering has ended,
and the blooms are succeeded by ripening grapes,
Then comes the cutting of branches with pruning hooks,
and the discarding of the lopped-off shoots.
6 They shall all be left to the mountain vultures
and to the beasts of the earth;
The vultures shall summer on them,
all the beasts of the earth shall winter on them.
7 Then will gifts be brought to the Lord of hosts—to the place of the name of the Lord of hosts, Mount Zion—from a people tall and bronzed, from a people dreaded near and far, a nation strong and conquering, whose land is washed by rivers.(FW)
1 Oracle on Egypt:
See, the Lord is riding on a swift cloud
on his way to Egypt;
The idols of Egypt tremble before him,
the hearts of the Egyptians melt within them.(FX)
2 I will stir up Egypt against Egypt:
brother will war against brother,
Neighbor against neighbor,
city against city, kingdom against kingdom.
3 The courage of the Egyptians shall ebb away within them,
and I will bring their counsel to nought;
They shall consult idols and charmers, ghosts and clairvoyants.(FY)
4 I will deliver Egypt
into the power of a cruel master,
A harsh king[en] who shall rule over them—
oracle of the Lord, the Lord of hosts.(FZ)
5 The waters shall be drained from the sea,
the river shall parch and dry up;(GA)
6 Its streams shall become foul,
and the canals of Egypt shall dwindle and parch.(GB)
Reeds and rushes shall wither away,
7 and bulrushes on the bank of the Nile;(GC)
All the sown land along the Nile
shall dry up and blow away, and be no more.
8 The fishermen shall mourn and lament,
all who cast hook in the Nile;
Those who spread their nets in the water
shall pine away.
9 The linen-workers shall be disappointed,
the combers and weavers shall turn pale;(GD)
10 The spinners shall be crushed,
all the hired laborers shall be despondent.
11 Utter fools are the princes of Zoan![eo]
the wisest of Pharaoh’s advisers give stupid counsel.
How can you say to Pharaoh,
“I am a descendant of wise men, of ancient kings”?
12 Where then are your wise men?
Let them tell you and make known
What the Lord of hosts has planned
13 The princes of Zoan have become fools,
the princes of Memphis have been deceived.
The chiefs of its tribes
have led Egypt astray.(GF)
14 The Lord has prepared among them
a spirit of dizziness,
And they have made Egypt stagger in whatever she does,
as a drunkard staggers in his vomit.(GG)
15 Egypt shall accomplish nothing—
neither head nor tail, palm branch nor reed,[ep] shall accomplish anything.
16 On that day the Egyptians shall be like women, trembling with fear, because of the Lord of hosts shaking his fist at them.(GH) 17 And the land of Judah shall be a terror to the Egyptians. Every time they think of Judah, they shall stand in dread because of the plan the Lord of hosts has in mind for them.
18 On that day there shall be five cities[eq] in the land of Egypt that speak the language of Canaan and swear by the Lord of hosts; one shall be called “City of the Sun.”
19 On that day there shall be an altar to the Lord at the center of Egypt, and a sacred pillar to the Lord near its boundary. 20 This will be a sign and witness to the Lord of hosts in the land of Egypt, so that when they cry out to the Lord because of their oppressors, he will send them a savior to defend and deliver them.(GI) 21 The Lord shall make himself known to Egypt, and the Egyptians shall know the Lord in that day; they shall offer sacrifices and oblations, make vows to the Lord and fulfill them.(GJ) 22 Although the Lord shall smite Egypt severely, he shall heal them; they shall turn to the Lord and he shall be moved by their entreaty and heal them.(GK)
23 On that day there shall be a highway from Egypt to Assyria; the Assyrians shall enter Egypt, and the Egyptians enter Assyria, and the Egyptians shall worship with the Assyrians.
24 On that day Israel shall be a third party with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth,(GL) 25 when the Lord of hosts gives this blessing: “Blessed be my people Egypt, and the work of my hands Assyria, and my heritage, Israel.”
Isaiah’s Warning Against Trust in Egypt and Ethiopia. 1 In the year the general sent by Sargon, king of Assyria, came to Ashdod,[er] fought against it, and captured it— 2 [es]at that time the Lord had spoken through Isaiah, the son of Amoz: Go and take off the sackcloth from your waist, and remove the sandals from your feet. This he did, walking naked and barefoot.(GM) 3 Then the Lord said: Just as my servant Isaiah has gone naked and barefoot for three years as a sign and portent against Egypt and Ethiopia,(GN) 4 so shall the king of Assyria lead away captives from Egypt, and exiles from Ethiopia, young and old, naked and barefoot, with buttocks uncovered, the shame of Egypt.(GO) 5 They shall be dismayed and ashamed because of Ethiopia, their hope, and because of Egypt, their boast.(GP) 6 The inhabitants of this coastland shall say on that day, “See what has happened to those we hoped in, to whom we fled for help and deliverance from the king of Assyria! What escape is there for us now?”(GQ)
Fall of Babylon[et]
1 Oracle on the wastelands by the sea:[eu]
Like whirlwinds sweeping through the Negeb,
it comes from the desert,
from the fearful land.(GR)
2 A harsh vision has been announced to me:
“The traitor betrays,
the despoiler spoils.(GS)
Go up, O Elam; besiege, O Media;[ev]
put an end to all its groaning!”(GT)
3 Therefore my loins are filled with anguish,
pangs have seized me like those of a woman in labor;
I am too bewildered to hear,
too dismayed to look.(GU)
4 My mind reels,
shuddering assails me;
The twilight I yearned for
he has turned into dread.(GV)
5 They set the table,
spread out the rugs;
they eat, they drink.[ew](GW)
Rise up, O princes,
oil the shield!
6 For thus my Lord said to me:
Go, station a watchman,
let him tell what he sees.
7 If he sees a chariot,
a pair of horses,
Someone riding a donkey,
someone riding a camel,
Then let him pay heed,
very close heed.
8 Then the watchman cried,
“On the watchtower, my Lord,
I stand constantly by day;
And I stay at my post
through all the watches of the night.(GX)
9 Here he comes—
a single chariot,
a pair of horses—
He calls out and says,
‘Fallen, fallen is Babylon!
All the images of her gods
are smashed to the ground!’”(GY)
10 To you, who have been threshed,
beaten on my threshing floor,
What I have heard
from the Lord of hosts,
The God of Israel,
I have announced to you.(GZ)
11 Oracle on Dumah:[ex]
They call to me from Seir,
“Watchman, how much longer the night?
Watchman, how much longer the night?”
12 The watchman replies,
“Morning has come, and again night.
If you will ask, ask; come back again.”
In the Steppe
13 Oracle: in the steppe:[ey]
In the thicket in the steppe you will spend the night,
caravans of Dedanites.
14 Meet the thirsty, bring them water,
inhabitants of the land of Tema,
greet the fugitives with bread.(HA)
15 For they have fled from the sword,
from the drawn sword;
From the taut bow,
from the thick of battle.
16 For thus the Lord has said to me: In another year, like the years of a hired laborer,[ez] all the glory of Kedar shall come to an end. 17 Few of Kedar’s stalwart archers shall remain, for the Lord, the God of Israel, has spoken.
The Valley of Vision
1 Oracle on the Valley of Vision:[fa](HB)
What is the matter with you now, that you have gone up,
all of you, to the housetops,
2 [fb]You who were full of noise,
Your slain are not slain with the sword,
nor killed in battle.
3 All your leaders fled away together,
they were captured without use of bow;
All who were found were captured together,
though they had fled afar off.
4 That is why I say: Turn away from me,
let me weep bitterly;
Do not try to comfort me
for the ruin of the daughter of my people.(HD)
5 It is a day of panic, rout and confusion,
from the Lord, the God of hosts, in the Valley of Vision[fc]
a cry for help to the mountains.
6 Elam takes up the quiver,
Aram mounts the horses
and Kir[fd] uncovers the shields.
7 Your choice valleys are filled with chariots,
horses are posted at the gates—
8 and shelter over Judah is removed.[fe]
On that day you looked to the weapons in the House of the Forest; 9 [ff]you saw that the breaches in the City of David were many; you collected the water of the lower pool. 10 You numbered the houses of Jerusalem, tearing some down to strengthen the wall; 11 you made a reservoir between the two walls for the water of the old pool. But you did not look to the city’s Maker, nor consider the one who fashioned it long ago.
12 On that day the Lord,
the God of hosts, called
For weeping and mourning,
for shaving the head and wearing sackcloth.
13 But look! instead, there was celebration and joy,
slaughtering cattle and butchering sheep,
Eating meat and drinking wine:
“Eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!”(HE)
14 This message was revealed in my hearing from the Lord of hosts:
This iniquity will not be forgiven you until you die,
says the Lord, the God of hosts.
Shebna and Eliakim
15 Thus says the Lord, the God of hosts:
Up, go to that official,
Shebna,[fg] master of the palace,
16 [fh]“What have you here? Whom have you here,
that you have hewn for yourself a tomb here,
Hewing a tomb on high,
carving a resting place in the rock?”
17 The Lord shall hurl you down headlong, mortal man!
He shall grip you firmly,
18 And roll you up and toss you like a ball
into a broad land.
There you will die, there with the chariots you glory in,
you disgrace to your master’s house!
19 I will thrust you from your office
and pull you down from your station.
20 On that day I will summon my servant
Eliakim,[fi] son of Hilkiah;(HF)
21 I will clothe him with your robe,
gird him with your sash,
confer on him your authority.
He shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem,
and to the house of Judah.(HG)
22 I will place the key[fj] of the House of David on his shoulder;
what he opens, no one will shut,
what he shuts, no one will open.(HH)
23 I will fix him as a peg in a firm place,
a seat of honor for his ancestral house;
24 On him shall hang all the glory of his ancestral house:[fk]
descendants and offspring,
all the little dishes, from bowls to jugs.
25 On that day, says the Lord of hosts, the peg fixed in a firm place shall give way, break off and fall, and the weight that hung on it shall be done away with; for the Lord has spoken.
Tyre and Sidon
1 [fl]Oracle on Tyre:
Wail, ships of Tarshish,
for your port is destroyed;
From the land of the Kittim[fm]
the news reaches them.(HI)
2 Silence! you who dwell on the coast,
you merchants of Sidon,
Whose messengers crossed the sea
3 over the deep waters,
Whose revenue was the grain of Shihor,[fn] the harvest of the Nile,
you who were the merchant among the nations.(HJ)
4 Be ashamed, Sidon, fortress on the sea,
for the sea[fo] has spoken,
“I have not been in labor, nor given birth,
nor raised young men,
nor reared young women.”
5 When the report reaches Egypt
they shall be in anguish at the report about Tyre.
6 Pass over to Tarshish,[fp]
wail, you who dwell on the coast!
7 Is this your exultant city,
whose origin is from old,
Whose feet have taken her
to dwell in distant lands?
8 Who has planned such a thing
against Tyre, the bestower of crowns,
Whose merchants are princes,
whose traders are the earth’s honored men?
9 The Lord of hosts has planned it,
to disgrace the height of all beauty,
to degrade all the honored of the earth.(HK)
10 Cross to your own land,
ship of Tarshish;
the harbor is no more.
11 His hand he stretches out over the sea,
he shakes kingdoms;
The Lord commanded the destruction
of Canaan’s strongholds:[fq](HL)
12 Crushed, you shall exult no more,
virgin daughter Sidon.
Arise, pass over to the Kittim,
even there you shall find no rest.(HM)
13 [fr]Look at the land of the Chaldeans,
the people that has ceased to be.
Assyria founded it for ships,
raised its towers,
Only to tear down its palaces,
and turn it into a ruin.(HN)
14 Lament, ships of Tarshish,
for your stronghold is destroyed.
15 On that day, Tyre shall be forgotten for seventy years,[fs] the lifetime of one king. At the end of seventy years, the song about the prostitute will be Tyre’s song:
16 Take a harp, go about the city,
Pluck the strings skillfully, sing many songs,
that you may be remembered.
17 At the end of the seventy years the Lord shall visit Tyre. She shall return to her hire and serve as prostitute[ft] with all the world’s kingdoms on the face of the earth.(HO) 18 But her merchandise and her hire shall be sacred to the Lord. It shall not be stored up or laid away; instead, her merchandise shall belong to those who dwell before the Lord, to eat their fill and clothe themselves in choice attire.
D. Apocalypse of Isaiah[fu]
Judgment upon the World and the Lord’s Enthronement on Mount Zion[fv]
1 See! The Lord is about to empty the earth and lay it waste;
he will twist its surface,
and scatter its inhabitants:(HP)
2 People and priest shall fare alike:
servant and master,
Maid and mistress,
buyer and seller,
Lender and borrower,
creditor and debtor.(HQ)
3 The earth shall be utterly laid waste, utterly stripped,
for the Lord has decreed this word.
4 The earth mourns and fades,
the world languishes and fades;
both heaven and earth languish.(HR)
5 The earth is polluted because of its inhabitants,
for they have transgressed laws, violated statutes,
broken the ancient covenant.[fw](HS)
6 Therefore a curse devours the earth,
and its inhabitants pay for their guilt;
Therefore they who dwell on earth have dwindled,
and only a few are left.(HT)
7 The new wine mourns, the vine languishes,
all the merry-hearted groan.(HU)
8 Stilled are the cheerful timbrels,
ended the shouts of the jubilant,
stilled the cheerful harp.(HV)
9 They no longer drink wine and sing;
strong brew is bitter to those who drink it.(HW)
10 Broken down is the city of chaos,[fx]
every house is shut against entry.(HX)
11 In the streets they cry out for lack of wine;
all joy has grown dim,
cheer is exiled from the land.(HY)
12 In the city nothing remains but desolation,
gates battered into ruins.
13 For thus it shall be in the midst of the earth,
among the peoples,
As when an olive tree has been beaten,
as with a gleaning when the vintage is done.(HZ)
14 These[fy] shall lift up their voice,
they shall sing for joy in the majesty of the Lord,
they shall shout from the western sea:
15 “Therefore, in the east
give glory to the Lord!
In the coastlands of the sea,
to the name of the Lord, the God of Israel!”(IA)
16 From the end of the earth we hear songs:
“Splendor to the Just One!”
But I said, “I am wasted, wasted away.
Woe is me! The traitors betray;
with treachery have the traitors betrayed!(IB)
17 Terror, pit, and trap
for you, inhabitant of the earth!(IC)
18 One who flees at the sound of terror
will fall into the pit;
One who climbs out of the pit
will be caught in the trap.
For the windows on high are open
and the foundations of the earth shake.(ID)
19 The earth will burst asunder,
the earth will be shaken apart,
the earth will be convulsed.
20 The earth will reel like a drunkard,
sway like a hut;
Its rebellion will weigh it down;
it will fall, never to rise again.”(IE)
21 On that day the Lord will punish
the host of the heavens[fz] in the heavens,
and the kings of the earth on the earth.
22 They will be gathered together
like prisoners into a pit;
They will be shut up in a dungeon,
and after many days they will be punished.(IF)
23 Then the moon will blush
and the sun be ashamed,(IG)
For the Lord of hosts will reign
on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem,
glorious in the sight of the elders.[ga](IH)
Praise for God’s Deliverance and the Celebration in Zion[gb]
1 O Lord, you are my God,
I extol you, I praise your name;
For you have carried out your wonderful plans of old,
faithful and true.(II)
2 For you have made the city a heap,
the fortified city a ruin,
The castle of the insolent, a city no more,
not ever to be rebuilt.(IJ)
3 Therefore a strong people will honor you,
ruthless nations will fear you.
4 For you have been a refuge to the poor,
a refuge to the needy in their distress;
Shelter from the rain,
shade from the heat.(IK)
When the blast of the ruthless was like a winter rain,
5 the roar of strangers like heat in the desert,
You subdued the heat with the shade of a cloud,
the rain of the tyrants was vanquished.
6 On this mountain[gc] the Lord of hosts
will provide for all peoples
A feast of rich food and choice wines,
juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines.
7 On this mountain he will destroy
the veil that veils all peoples,
The web that is woven over all nations.
8 He will destroy death forever.
The Lord God will wipe away
the tears from all faces;
The reproach of his people he will remove
from the whole earth; for the Lord has spoken.(IL)
9 On that day it will be said:
“Indeed, this is our God; we looked to him, and he saved us!
This is the Lord to whom we looked;
let us rejoice and be glad that he has saved us!”(IM)
Judgment on Moab[gd]
10 For the hand of the Lord will rest on this mountain,
but Moab will be trodden down
as straw is trodden down in the mire.(IN)
11 He will spread out his hands in its midst,
as a swimmer spreads out his hands to swim;
His pride will be brought low
despite his strokes.(IO)
12 The high-walled fortress he will raze,
bringing it low, leveling it to the ground, to the very dust.(IP)
Judah’s Praise and Prayer for Deliverance.[ge] 1 On that day this song shall be sung in the land of Judah:
“A strong city[gf] have we;
he sets up victory as our walls and ramparts.(IQ)
2 Open up the gates
that a righteous nation may enter,
one that keeps faith.(IR)
3 With firm purpose you maintain peace;
in peace, because of our trust in you.”(IS)
4 Trust in the Lord forever!
For the Lord is an eternal Rock.(IT)
5 He humbles those who dwell on high,
the lofty city he brings down,
Brings it down to the ground,
levels it to the dust.(IU)
6 The feet of the needy trample on it—
the feet of the poor.
7 The way of the just is smooth;
the path of the just you make level.(IV)
8 The course of your judgments, Lord, we await;
your name and your memory are the desire of our souls.
9 My soul yearns for you at night,
yes, my spirit within me seeks you at dawn;
When your judgment comes upon the earth,
the world’s inhabitants learn justice.(IW)
10 The wicked, when spared, do not learn justice;
in an upright land they act perversely,
and do not see the majesty of the Lord.(IX)
11 Lord, your hand is raised high,
but they do not perceive it;
Let them be put to shame when they see your zeal for your people:
let the fire prepared for your enemies consume them.(IY)
12 Lord, you will decree peace for us,
for you have accomplished all we have done.(IZ)
13 Lord, our God, lords other than you have ruled us;
only because of you can we call upon your name.
14 Dead they are, they cannot live,
shades that cannot rise;
Indeed, you have punished and destroyed them,
and wiped out all memory of them.
15 You have increased the nation, Lord,
you have increased the nation, have added to your glory,
you have extended far all the boundaries of the land.(JA)
16 Lord, oppressed by your punishment,
we cried out in anguish under your discipline.(JB)
17 As a woman about to give birth
writhes and cries out in pain,
so were we before you, Lord.(JC)
18 We conceived and writhed in pain,
giving birth only to wind;
Salvation we have not achieved for the earth,
no inhabitants for the world were born.(JD)
19 [gg]But your dead shall live, their corpses shall rise!
Awake and sing, you who lie in the dust!
For your dew is a dew of light,
and you cause the land of shades to give birth.(JE)
The Lord’s Response[gh]
20 Go, my people, enter your chambers,
and close the doors behind you;
Hide yourselves for a brief moment,
until the wrath is past.(JF)
21 See, the Lord goes forth from his place,
to punish the wickedness of the earth’s inhabitants;
The earth will reveal the blood shed upon it,
and no longer conceal the slain.(JG)
The Judgment and Deliverance of Israel
- 1:1 The title, or inscription, of the book is an editorial addition to identify the prophet and the circumstances of his ministry. Isaiah: meaning “the salvation of the Lord,” or “the Lord is salvation.” Amoz: not Amos the prophet. Judah: the Southern Kingdom of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. Uzziah: also called Azariah; cf. 2 Kgs 15:1; 2 Chr 26:1.
- 1:2–31 This chapter is widely considered to be a collection of oracles from various periods in Isaiah’s ministry, chosen by the editor as a compendium of his most characteristic teachings.
- 1:3 Ox…ass: Isaiah uses animals proverbial for their stupidity and stubbornness to underline Israel’s failure to respond to God. Israel: a term Isaiah (and other prophets) frequently applies to Judah, especially after the fall of the Northern Kingdom (which Isaiah normally calls Ephraim, as in 7:2, 9, 17; 9:8), but sometimes applies to the entire chosen people, as in 8:14.
- 1:4 Ah: see note on 5:8–24. Holy One of Israel: a title used frequently in the Book of Isaiah, rarely elsewhere in the Old Testament (see 5:19, 24; 10:20; 12:6; 17:7; 29:19; 30:11, 12, 15; 31:1; 37:23; 41:14, 16, 20; 43:3, 14; 45:11; 47:4; 48:17; 49:7; 54:5; 55:5; 60:9, 14).
- 1:5–6 The Hebrew expression translated “Why?” may also be translated “Where?” The ambiguity is probably intentional: “Why, O Israel, would you still be beaten, and where on your bruised body do you want the next blow?” The bruised body is a metaphor for the historical disaster that has overtaken Israel (see v. 7) because of its sins.
- 1:7 Sodom: Sodom and Gomorrah (see vv. 9–10; cf. Gn 19) were proverbial as wicked cities completely overthrown and destroyed by God. Judah, more fortunate, survives at least as a remnant. The devastation of the land and the isolation of Jerusalem suggest the time of Sennacherib’s invasion of 701.
- 1:8 Daughter Zion: Jerusalem, as isolated as a little hut erected in a field for the shelter of watchmen and laborers.
- 1:9 Lord of hosts: God, who is the Creator and Ruler of the armies of Israel, the angels, stars, etc.
- 1:10–17 A powerful indictment of the religious hypocrisy of rulers and others who neglect just judgment and oppress the weaker members, yet believe they can please God with sacrifices and other external forms of worship. The long list of observances suggests the Lord’s tedium with such attempts. Sodom…Gomorrah: the names are picked up from v. 9, but now to emphasize their wickedness rather than the good fortune of escaping total destruction.
- 1:15–16 Hands…blood: oppression of the poor is likened to violence that bloodies the hands, which explains why the hands spread out in prayer (v. 15) are not regarded by the Lord. This climax of the accusations is followed by positive admonitions for reversing the evil situation.
- 1:18–20 Let us set things right: the Hebrew word refers to the arbitration of legal disputes (Jb 23:7). God offers to settle his case with Israel on the basis of the change of behavior demanded above. For Israel it is a life or death choice; life in conformity with God’s will or death for continued disobedience.
- 1:21–28 Faithful city: the phrase, found in v. 21 and v. 28, forms an inclusio which marks off the passage and also suggests three chronological periods: the city’s former ideal state, its present wicked condition (described in vv. 21b–23), and the future ideal conditions intended by God. This will be brought about by a purging judgment directed primarily against the leaders (“judges…counselors”).
- 1:26 Judges: the reference must be to royal judges appointed by David and his successors, not to the tribal judges of the Book of Judges, since the “beginning” of Jerusalem as an Israelite city dates only to the time of David. The Davidic era is idealized here; obtaining justice in the historical Jerusalem of David’s time was more problematic (see 2 Sm 15:1–6).
- 1:27–28 These verses expand the oracle that originally ended at v. 26. The expansion correctly interprets the preceding text as proclaiming a purifying judgment on Zion in which the righteous are saved while the wicked perish. The meaning of “by justice” and “by righteousness” is ambiguous. Do these terms refer to God’s judgment or to the justice and righteousness of Zion’s surviving inhabitants? Is 33:14–16 suggests the latter interpretation.
- 1:29–31 These verses were secondarily inserted here on the catchword principle; like v. 28 they pronounce judgment on certain parties “together” (v. 31). The terebinths and gardens refer to the sacred groves or asherahs that functioned as idolatrous cultic symbols at the popular shrines or high places (1 Kgs 14:23; 2 Kgs 17:10). Hezekiah cut down these groves during his reform (2 Kgs 18:4); they were a religious issue during Isaiah’s ministry (cf. Is 17:7–11). Isaiah threatens those who cultivate these symbols with the same fate that befalls trees when deprived of water.
- 2:1 This editorial heading probably introduced the collection of chaps. 2–12, to which chap. 1 with its introduction was added later (see note on 1:2–31).
- 2:2–22 These verses contain two very important oracles, one on the pilgrimage of nations to Mount Zion (vv. 2–4—completed with an invitation to the “house of Jacob,” v. 5), the other on the day of the Lord (see note on Am 5:18), which was probably composed from at least two earlier pieces. Whereas vv. 6–8 indict Judah for trust in superstitious practices and human resources rather than in the Lord, the following verses are directed against humankind in general and emphasize the effect of the “day of the Lord,” the humbling of human pride. This may be taken as a precondition for the glorious vision of vv. 2–4. This vision of Zion’s glorious future, which is also found in a slightly variant form in Mi 4:1–4, is rooted in the early Zion tradition, cultivated in the royal cult in Jerusalem. It celebrated God’s choice of Jerusalem as the divine dwelling place, along with God’s choice of the Davidic dynasty (Ps 68:16–17; 78:67–72; 132:13–18). Highest mountain: the Zion tradition followed earlier mythological conceptions that associate the abode of deities with very high mountains (Ps 48:2–3). The lifting of Mount Zion is a metaphor for universal recognition of the Lord’s authority.
- 2:4 Once the nations acknowledge God as sovereign, they go up to Jerusalem to settle their disputes, rather than having recourse to war.
- 2:5 This verse is added as a conclusion to vv. 2–4; cf. Mi 4:4–5, where a quite different conclusion is provided for the parallel version of this oracle.
- 2:9 Bowing down to idols will not bring deliverance to Israel, but rather total abasement. Do not pardon them: this line is so abrupt that it is almost certainly an intrusion in the text.
- 2:11 That day: i.e., the day of the Lord; cf. note on Am 5:18.
- 2:13 Lebanon: Mount Lebanon in Syria, famed for its cedars. Bashan: the fertile uplands east of the Sea of Galilee.
- 2:22 The meaning of this verse, certainly a later addition, is not clear. It is not addressed to God but to a plural subject.
- 3:1–12 These verses suggest deportation, with resulting social upheaval, and thus may date to sometime after Ahaz submitted as vassal to Assyria. The deportation practiced by Assyria, as later by Babylon, exiled the leading elements of society, such as those named in vv. 2–3; cf. 2 Kgs 24:12, 14–16 for a similar list of those exiled by the Babylonians. Denuding society of its leaders opens the way to near anarchy and a situation in which leadership is seized by or thrust upon those unqualified for it (vv. 5–7). The situation has been provoked by sinfully inept leadership (vv. 4, 8–9, 12). Some suggest that vv. 4 and 12 refer to Ahaz, who may have come to the throne at an early age. Verses 10–11 form a wisdom couplet that was inserted later.
- 3:13–15 The princes and the elders, here accused of despoiling the poor, are the very ones who should be their defenders. Loot: by the Hebrew term (gazela) Isaiah conveys the idea of violent seizure, though 10:1–4 suggests the poor could be plundered by legal means.
- 3:16–4:1 Here and again in 32:9–14 Isaiah condemns the women of the ruling class for their part in Jerusalem’s plight.
- 3:17 A shaven head is a mark of social disgrace; cf. Nm 5:18.
- 3:18–23 The long list of women’s apparel in these verses suggests luxury and vanity; it contains a number of rare words, and the precise meaning of many of the terms is uncertain.
- 3:25 Your men…your champions: the second person feminine singular pronoun here shows that the prophet has shifted his attention from the women of Zion to the personified city of Zion.
- 4:1 Seven women…one man: deportation (cf. note on 3:1–12) would result in a disproportion of the sexes and leave the female population without enough male partners. The women are willing to marry, not for support, but to avoid disgrace.
- 4:2–6 Usually judged a later addition to the oracles of Isaiah. It relieves the threatening tone of the surrounding chaps. 3 and 5.
- 4:2 Branch: the term (Heb. semah) that is sometimes used of the ideal Davidic king of the future (cf. Jer 23:5; 33:15; Zec 3:8; 6:12). However, the parallel “fruit of the land” does not favor that usage here.
- 4:3 Inscribed for life: in God’s list of the elect; cf. Ex 32:32.
- 5:1–7 Vineyard: although the term is sometimes used in an erotic context (Sg 1:6; 8:12), “vineyard” or “vine” is used more frequently as a metaphor for God’s people (27:2; Ps 80:9, 14, 15; Jer 2:21; 12:10; Ez 17:7; Hos 10:1; Na 2:2). The terms translated “friend” (yadid) and “beloved” (dod) suggest the Lord’s favor (Dt 33:12; 2 Sm 12:25; Ps 127:2) and familial background rather than introducing the piece as a “love song,” as is sometimes suggested. The prophet disguises the real theme (the people’s infidelity) so that the hearers will participate in the unfavorable judgment called for (vv. 3–4). Cf. the reversal of this parable in 27:2–6.
- 5:5–6 Trampled…thorns and briers: this judgment is echoed in the description of the devastated land in 7:23–25.
- 5:7 Judgment…bloodshed…justice…outcry: in Hebrew there is an impressive play on words: mishpat parallels mispah, sedaqah parallels se‘aqah. See also the threefold “waited for” in vv. 2, 4, 7.
- 5:8–24 These verses contain a series of short oracles introduced by the Hebrew particle hoy (“Ah!”), an emphatic exclamation, sometimes translated “Woe!”
- 5:8–10 An oracle against land-grabbers (v. 8); they will be impoverished instead of enriched (vv. 9–10).
- 5:10 Ten acres: a field with ten times the surface area a yoke of oxen could plow in one day. Bath: a liquid measure equal to about twelve gallons. Homer: a dry measure equal to what a donkey can carry, calculated to be about ten bushels. Ephah: a dry measure of about one bushel. So small a harvest is the fruit of the land-grabbers’ greed.
- 5:11–13 An oracle against debauchery and indifference. Strong drink: the Hebrew word shekar means either beer or a type of wine, perhaps date wine, not distilled liquor.
- 5:19 An indication that some, presumably of the ruling class, scoff at Isaiah’s teaching on the Lord’s “plan” and “work” (cf. v. 12; 14:26–27; 28:9–14; 30:10–11).
- 5:25–30 These verses do not suit their present context. Apparently v. 25 was originally the conclusion of the poem of 9:7–20 directed against the Northern Kingdom; cf. the refrain that occurs here and in 9:11, 16, and 20. Verses 26–30 look to an invasion by Assyria and might originally have come immediately after the poem of 9:1–20 plus 5:25. The insertion of chaps. 6–8 may have occasioned the dislocation, as well as that of 10:1–4a, which may have originally belonged with the “reproach” oracles of 5:8–23.
- 5:26–30 This oracle threatens a future judgment, an invasion of the Assyrian army, God’s instrument for punishing Judah (10:5, 15).
- 6:1 In the year King Uzziah died: probably 742 B.C., although the chronology of this period is disputed. A high and lofty throne: within the holy of holies of the Jerusalem Temple stood two cherubim, or winged sphinxes, whose outstretched wings served as the divine throne (1 Kgs 6:23–28; Ez 1:4–28; 10:1, 20). The ark of the covenant was God’s footstool (Ps 132:7–8; 1 Chr 28:2), placed under the cherubim (1 Kgs 8:6–7). Temple: the holy place, just in front of the holy of holies.
- 6:2 Seraphim: the plural of saraph (“to burn”), a term used to designate the “fiery” serpents of the wilderness (Nm 21:8; Dt 8:15), and to refer to “winged” serpents (Is 14:29; 30:6). Here, however, it is used adjectivally of the cherubim, who are not serpent-like, as seen in the fact that they have faces and sexual parts (“feet”). See the adaptation of these figures by Ezekiel (Ez 1:10–12; 10:4–15).
- 6:3 Holy, holy, holy: these words have been used in Christian liturgy from the earliest times.
- 6:4 Smoke: reminiscent of the clouds which indicated God’s presence at Mount Sinai (Ex 19:16–19; Dt 4:11) and which filled the tabernacle (Ex 40:34–38) and the Temple (1 Kgs 8:10–11) at their dedication.
- 6:5 Doomed: there are two roots from which the verb here could be derived; one means “to perish, be doomed,” the other “to become silent,” and given Isaiah’s delight in puns and double entendre, he probably intended to sound both notes. “I am doomed!” is suggested by the popular belief that to see God would lead to one’s death; cf. Gn 32:31; Ex 33:20; Jgs 13:22. “I am struck silent!” is suggested by the emphasis on the lips in vv. 5–6, and such silence is attested elsewhere as the appropriate response to the vision of the Lord in the Temple (Hb 2:20).
- 6:7 Touched your lips: Isaiah is thus symbolically purified of sin in preparation for his mission as God’s prophet.
- 6:9–10 Isaiah’s words give evidence that he attempted in every way, through admonition, threat, and promise, to bring the people to conversion (cf. 1:18–20), so it is unlikely that this charge to “harden” is to be understood as Isaiah’s task; more probably it reflects the refusal of the people, more particularly the leaders, who were supposed to “see,” “hear,” and “understand,” a refusal which would then lead to a disastrous outcome (vv. 11–12).
- 6:11–12 The desolation described would be the result of the sort of deportation practiced by the Assyrians and later by the Babylonians. Isaiah seems to expect this as an eventual consequence of Judah’s submission as vassal to the Assyrians; cf. 3:1–3; 5:13.
- 6:13 When its leaves have fallen: the meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain, and the text may be corrupt. Holy offspring: part of the phrase is missing from the Septuagint and may be a later addition; it provides a basis for hope for the future.
- 7:1–8:18 These verses (often termed Isaiah’s “Memoirs”) contain a series of oracles and narratives (some in first person), all closely related to the Syro-Ephraimite war of 735–732 B.C. Several passages feature three children whose symbolic names refer to the Lord’s purposes: Shear-jashub (7:3), Emmanuel (7:10–17; 8:8–10), and Maher-shalal-hash-baz (8:1–4). Judah and its Davidic dynasty should trust God’s promises and not fear the combined armies of Israel and Syria; within a very short time these two enemy states will be destroyed, and David’s dynasty will continue.
- 7:1 Days of Ahaz: who ruled from 735 to 715 B.C. This attack against Jerusalem by the kings of Aram (Syria) and Israel in 735 B.C. was occasioned by the refusal of Ahaz to enter with them into an anti-Assyrian alliance; cf. 2 Kgs 16.
- 7:3 Shear-jashub: this name means “a remnant will return” (cf. 10:20–22).
- 7:5 Planned: the plans of those who plot against Ahaz shall not be accomplished (v. 7). What the Lord plans will unfailingly come to pass, whereas human plans contrary to those of the Lord are doomed to frustration; cf. 8:10; 14:24–27; 19:11–14; 29:15; 30:1. See further the note on 14:24–27.
- 7:6 Son of Tabeel: a puppet of Jerusalem’s enemies. His appointment would interrupt the lawful succession from David.
- 7:8–9 God had chosen and made a commitment to David’s dynasty and his capital city Jerusalem, not to Rezin and his capital Damascus, nor to the son of Remaliah and his capital Samaria (2 Sm 7:12–16; Ps 2:6; 78:68–72; 132:11–18). Within sixty-five years…nation: this text occurs at the end of v. 8 in the Hebrew. Ahaz would not have been reassured by so distant a promise; the phrase is probably a later addition.
- 7:11 Deep…sky: an extraordinary or miraculous sign that would prove God’s firm will to save the royal house of David from its oppressors.
- 7:12 Tempt the Lord: Ahaz prefers to depend upon the might of Assyria rather than the might of God.
- 7:14 Isaiah’s sign seeks to reassure Ahaz that he need not fear the invading armies of Syria and Israel in the light of God’s promise to David (2 Sm 7:12–16). The oracle follows a traditional announcement formula by which the birth and sometimes naming of a child is promised to particular individuals (Gn 16:11; Jgs 13:3). The young woman: Hebrew ‘almah designates a young woman of marriageable age without specific reference to virginity. The Septuagint translated the Hebrew term as parthenos, which normally does mean virgin, and this translation underlies Mt 1:23. Emmanuel: the name means “with us is God.” Since for the Christian the incarnation is the ultimate expression of God’s willingness to “be with us,” it is understandable that this text was interpreted to refer to the birth of Christ.
- 7:15–16 Curds and honey: the only diet available to those who are left after the devastation of the land; cf. vv. 21–25.
- 7:17 Such days as have not come since Ephraim seceded: the days of the kingdom prior to the secession of Ephraim and the other northern tribes (1 Kgs 12). The king of Assyria: the final comment appears to be a later editorial gloss indicating days worse than any since the secession.
- 7:20 God will use the Assyrians from across the River (the Euphrates) as his instrument (“razor”) to inflict disgrace and suffering upon his people. Ahaz paid tribute to the Assyrian king Tiglath-pileser III, who decimated Syria and Israel in his campaigns of 734–732 B.C. (cf. 2 Kgs 16:7–9). The feet: euphemism for sexual parts; cf. Is 6:2.
- 7:23–25 Cf. note on 5:5–6.
- 8:1 Ordinary stylus: lit., “stylus of men.” Maher-shalal-hash-baz: a symbolic name to be given to another son of Isaiah (v. 3); it means “quick spoils; speedy plunder,” and describes what the Assyrians will do to Syria and Israel.
- 8:2 Reliable witnesses: who would testify that Isaiah had indeed prophesied the future destruction. Uriah the priest: cf. 2 Kgs 16:10.
- 8:6–8 This people: Judah. Waters of Shiloah: the stream that flows from the Gihon spring into the pool of Shiloah in Jerusalem and provides a sure supply in time of siege; here it symbolizes the divine protection which Judah has rejected by seeking Assyrian support, symbolized by “the River” (i.e., the Euphrates). Ultimately Assyrian power will devastate Judah. His outspread wings: the Lord’s wings, a recurring symbol for divine protection (Ps 17:8; 36:8; 57:2; 61:5; 91:4; Ru 2:12). Some understand the image to refer to the sides of the flooding river, but this use of the Hebrew word for “wings” is unparalleled elsewhere in classical Hebrew.
- 8:10 The plan of Israel’s enemies will be thwarted because, as the name “Emmanuel” signifies, “with us is God.”
- 8:12–14 Because Isaiah and his followers resisted the official policy of seeking help from Assyria they were labeled “conspirators”; Isaiah uses the term to express what is really the case, cooperating with the Lord.
- 8:16 Bind…seal…with my disciples: because the prophet’s message was not well received at the time, he wanted to preserve it until the future had vindicated him as God’s true prophet (cf. 30:8–9).
- 8:18 Signs: in the meantime, while awaiting the vindication of his message, Isaiah and his children with their symbolic names stood as a reminder of God’s message to Israel.
- 8:19 Chirp and mutter: a mocking reference to necromancers.
- 8:20 Surely…no dawn: reliance on necromancy brings futility.
- 8:22 Oppressive gloom…without light: the meaning of the Hebrew here is quite uncertain.
- 8:23–9:6 The meaning of 8:23 is somewhat uncertain, for example, whether the expressions translated “once” and “now” refer to times or to individuals, and also whether the verbs speak of degrading and glorifying the territories. If this traditional translation is correct, the passage would seem to promise the former Northern Kingdom of Israel deliverance from the Assyrians and might relate to Hezekiah’s program of trying to reincorporate the northern territories into the kingdom of Judah and thus restore the boundaries of the country as it was under David.
- 8:23 The territories mentioned in this verse are those which the Assyrian king Tiglath-pileser III took from Israel and incorporated into the Assyrian provincial system as a result of the Syro-Ephraimite War of 735–732 B.C. (2 Kgs 15:29). Zebulun…Naphtali: regions of the former Northern Kingdom of Israel. The way of the Sea: the area along the Mediterranean coast south of Mount Carmel which became the Assyrian province of Dor. Land across the Jordan: the province of Gilead east of the Jordan. Galilee of the Nations: the territory north of Mount Carmel which was incorporated in the Assyrian province of Megiddo. Galilee apparently had a large non-Israelite population. Mt 4:15–16 cites this verse in the context of the beginning of Jesus’ public mission in Galilee.
- 9:3 Day of Midian: when God used the judge Gideon to deliver these northern territories from Midianite oppression (Jgs 6–7).
- 9:5 A child: perhaps to be identified with the Emmanuel of 7:14 and 8:8; cf. 11:1–2, 9. This verse may reflect a coronation rather than a birth. Upon his shoulder: the reference may be to a particular act in the ritual in which a symbol of the king’s authority was placed on his shoulder (cf. 2 Kgs 11:12; Is 22:22).
- 9:7–20 + 5:25–30 These verses describe a series of judgments God sent against the Northern Kingdom of Israel because of its sins. Despite the judgments, however, Israel continued to rebel, and God’s anger remained unabated, as the recurring refrain emphasizes (9:11, 16, 20). The refrain ties Is 9:7–20 together as a unit, but 9:20 is far too abrupt to be the original conclusion to the oracle. With its series of past judgments and repeated refrain, the oracle resembles Am 4:6–12; by analogy with that model one expects a conclusion in which the prophet turns from the narration of past judgments to the announcement of a future judgment. Is 5:25–30 fits the pattern found in 9:7–20 and provides a suitable and possibly original conclusion for the whole oracle.
- 9:11 Aram: the Syrian kingdom, with its capital at Damascus.
- 9:20 Manasseh…Ephraim: two of the leading tribes of the Northern Kingdom. The reference is to the civil wars that marked the final decades of the Northern Kingdom (2 Kgs 15:10, 14–16, 25; cf. Hos 7:3–7).
- 10:1–4 This is another hoy-oracle; cf. note on 5:8–24. It may originally have been part of the collection at 5:8–24.
- 10:4 For all this…outstretched!: this refrain appears to be out of place here; cf. 9:11, 16, 20.
- 10:5–34 These verses contain a series of oracles directed against Assyria. Verses 5–15 portray Assyria as simply the rod God uses to punish Israel, though Assyria does not realize this. The original conclusion to this unit may be the judgment found in vv. 24–27a, which continues the imagery and motifs found in vv. 5–15. Verses 16–23, because of the quite different imagery and motifs, may originally have been an insertion directed against Aram and Israel at the time of the Syro-Ephraimite War.
- 10:6 Impious nation: Judah. It was God’s intention to use Assyria merely to punish, not to destroy, the nation.
- 10:9–10 The cities mentioned were all cities captured, some more than once, by the Assyrians in the eighth century B.C. Verse 9 suggests a certain historical order in the fall of these cities, and v. 10 suggests that all of them had fallen before Samaria (cf. Am 6:2). That implies that one should think primarily of events during the reign of Tiglath-pileser III (745–727).
- 10:16 His fat ones: the strong men of the enemy army.
- 10:21 A remnant will return: in Hebrew, shear-jashub, an allusion to the name of Isaiah’s son, Shear-jashub; cf. 7:3.
- 10:24 This verse with its reference to Assyria’s rod may introduce the original conclusion to vv. 5–15.
- 10:27b–32 A poetic description of the march of an enemy army from the north, advancing south to the very gates of Jerusalem, where the enemy waves his hand in a gesture of derision against the city. Though Sennacherib’s troops took a different route, advancing down the coast and then approaching Jerusalem from the southeast, the arrogant attitude toward God’s chosen city was the same. Aiath: the Ai of Jos 7:22–8:29. Migron: modern Makrun north of Michmash. The ravine: the deep valley between Michmash and Geba (cf. 1 Sm 14:1–5). Ramah…Gibeah…Bath-Gallim…Laishah…Anathoth…Madmenah…Gebim: cities north of Jerusalem threatened by the sudden appearance of this enemy army. Nob: probably to be identified with the present Mount Scopus from where one has a clear view of Jerusalem.
- 10:33–34 Just when the enemy is about to capture Jerusalem, God intervenes and destroys the hostile army. Cf. 29:1–8; 31:4–9.
- 11:1–16 Isaiah 11 contains a prophecy of the rise of a new Davidic king who will embody the ancient ideal of Davidic kingship (vv. 1–9), an elaboration of that prophecy in a further description of that king’s rule (v. 10), and a prophecy of God’s deliverance of the chosen people from exile and cessation of enmities (vv. 11–16).
- 11:1–9 (10) Here Isaiah looks forward to a new Davidide who will realize the ancient ideals (see Ps 72). The oracle does not seem to have a particular historical person in mind.
- 11:1 Shoot…stump: the imagery suggests the bankruptcy of the monarchy as embodied in the historical kings, along with the need for a new beginning, to spring from the very origin from which David and his dynasty arose. Jesse: David’s father (cf. 1 Sm 16:1–13).
- 11:2–3 The source of the traditional names of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The Septuagint and the Vulgate read “piety” for “fear of the Lord” in its first occurrence, thus listing seven gifts.
- 11:6–9 This picture of the idyllic harmony of paradise is a dramatic symbol of universal peace and justice under the rule of the new Davidic king. The peace and harmony even among carnivores and their natural prey in this description suggest a paradisiac aspect of the reign of the new king.
- 11:10–16 This passage, with its reference to God’s people in widely scattered lands, is probably from a much later period. God will restore them to their own land. The reconciliation of Ephraim (i.e., the Northern Kingdom) and Judah reverses what Isaiah saw as a disastrous event of the past (cf. 7:17). God’s action is likened to a new exodus, analogous to the time God first acquired Israel in bringing them out of the land of Egypt. Pathros: upper Egypt. Elam: east of Babylonia. Shinar: Babylonia. Hamath: on the Orontes River in Syria. Isles: or coastlands, in the Mediterranean.
- 11:14 People of the east: tribes in the Arabian Desert (cf. Jgs 6:3, 33; 7:12).
- 11:15 Tongue: perhaps to be identified with the Gulf of Suez.
- 12:1–6 Israel’s thanksgiving to the Lord, expressed in language like that of the Psalms.
- 13:1–23:18 These chapters, which probably existed at one time as an independent collection, consist primarily of oracles from various sources against foreign nations. While some of the material is Isaianic, in many cases it has been reworked by later editors or writers.
- 13:1–22 Although attributed to Isaiah (v. 1), this oracle does not reflect conditions of Isaiah’s time. Babylon did not achieve imperial status until a century later, after its victory over Assyria in 609 B.C. The mention of the Medes (v. 17) rather than Persia suggests a date prior to 550 B.C., when the Median empire of Astyages fell to Cyrus the Persian. Tension is created in that the attackers are not named until v. 17 and the foe to be attacked until v. 19.
- 13:1 Oracle: Heb. massa’; used eight more times in this collection.
- 13:2 To them: the Medes (v. 17), who are being summoned to destroy Babylon. Gates of the nobles: the reference is apparently to the gates of Babylon and involves a wordplay on the city name (Babylon = bab ilani, “gate of the gods”).
- 13:3 Consecrated ones: in the sense that they will wage a “holy war” and carry out God’s plan.
- 13:6–8 Day of the Lord: described often in prophetic writings, it generally signified the coming of the Lord in power and majesty to destroy his enemies. The figures used convey the idea of horror and destruction (Am 5:18–20). The Almighty: Heb. shaddai; there is a play on words between destruction (shod) and Shaddai, a title for God traditionally rendered as “the Almighty” (cf. Gn 17:1; Ex 6:3).
- 13:12 Ophir: cf. note on Ps 45:10.
- 13:21 Satyrs: in the popular mind, demons of goatlike form dwelling in ruins, symbols of immorality; cf. Lv 17:7; Is 34:14.
- 14:2 Possess them: Israel will make slaves of the nations who escort it back to its land.
- 14:4–21 This taunt-song, a satirical funeral lament, is a beautiful example of classical Hebrew poetry. According to the prose introduction and the prosaic conclusion (vv. 22–23), it is directed against the king of Babylon, though Babylon is mentioned nowhere in the song itself. If the reference to Babylon is accurate, the piece was composed long after the time of Isaiah, for Babylon was not a threat to Judah in the eighth century. Some have argued that Isaiah wrote it at the death of an Assyrian king and the references to Babylon were made by a later editor, but this is far from certain.
- 14:12 Morning Star: term addressed to the king of Babylon. The Vulgate translates as “Lucifer,” a name applied by the church Fathers to Satan. Son of the dawn: Heb., ben shahar, may reflect the name of a pagan deity.
- 14:13–15 God: not Elohim, the common word for God, but El, the name of the head of the pantheon in Canaanite mythology, a god who was early identified with the Lord in Israelite thought. Mount of Assembly: mountain where the council of the gods met, according to Canaanite mythology. Zaphon: the sacred mountain of Baal, originally the Jebel el-Aqra north of Ugarit, but other mountains have been identified with it, including Mount Zion in Jerusalem (Ps 48:3). The attempt to usurp the place of God (v. 14), coupled with the dramatic reversal (“above the stars of God” to “the depths of the pit”) occasioned the interpretation that saw here the rebellion and fall of Satan.
- 14:21 Cities: if the text is correct, it presumably refers to cities as expressions of human pride, authority, and oppression (cf. Gn 11:1–9; Na 3:1–4).
- 14:24–27 The motif of God’s plan or work is a recurring thread running through Isaiah’s oracles. The plans of Judah’s enemies will not come to pass (7:5–7; 8:9–10; 10:7), but God’s plan for his work of disciplining his own people (5:12, 19; 28:21), and then for punishing the foreign agents God used to administer that discipline (10:12) will come to pass.
- 14:26 Hand outstretched over all the nations: as it was once outstretched over Israel (9:11, 16, 20; 5:25).
- 14:28–31 This oracle seems to reflect the political situation soon after the death of Ahaz in 715 B.C., when Ashdod and the other Philistine cities were trying to create a united front to rebel against Assyria. Ahaz had refused to join the rebels in 735 B.C. and remained loyal to Assyria during the rest of his reign, but the Philistines may have had higher hopes for his son Hezekiah. Judah, however, did not join in Ashdod’s disastrous revolt in 713–711 B.C. (cf. 20:1).
- 14:28 The year that King Ahaz died: 715 B.C.
- 14:29 The occasion for this oracle is usually taken to be the death of an Assyrian king; the Philistines were vassals of Assyria, whereas no victories of Ahaz over the Philistines are recorded. The chronological notice (in the year that King Ahaz died) may be incorrect, for no Assyrian king died around 715, the date usually assigned for the death of Ahaz. Flying saraph: a winged cobra, often portrayed in Egyptian art and on Israelite seals. The Hebrew saraph means “to burn” and perhaps is applied to the cobra because of the burning sensation of its bite.
- 14:31 Smoke from the north: the dust raised from the approach of the Assyrian army.
- 14:32 Messengers of the nations: envoys from Philistia, and from Egypt and Ethiopia, the real powers behind the Philistine revolt (20:1–6; cf. 18:1–2).
- 15:1–16:14 Both the historical situation reflected in this oracle against Moab and the date of composition are uncertain. Variants of the same poem are found in Jer 48, and there are connections with Nm 21:27–30 as well.
- 15:2 Shaved…sheared off: traditional signs of grief.
- 15:9 There is a play on words between “Dimon” and dam, the Hebrew word for blood.
- 16:1 Send them forth: the Hebrew text is disturbed; it could also be understood to refer to tribute (a lamb) sent from Moab to Zion, presumably to encourage the king to receive the Moabite refugees.
- 16:2 The Arnon: principal river of Moab.
- 16:3–5 Directed to Jerusalem, which should receive the suffering Moabites with mercy, as befits the city of David’s family, who were partly descended from Ruth the Moabite; and cf. 1 Sm 22:3–4. This would be a gracious act on Judah’s part, since its relations with Moab were strained at best.
- 16:7–14 Moab had been prosperous; now it has become a desert.
- 16:7 Raisin cakes: masses of dried compressed grapes used as food (cf. 2 Sm 6:19; 1 Chr 16:3; Sg 2:5), and also in the worship of other gods (Hos 3:1).
- 16:8 Wilderness: i.e., eastward. Sea: i.e., westward.
- 16:9–10 Battle cry…shout of joy: the same Hebrew word (hedad), which normally refers to the joyful shout of those treading the grapes (cf. Jer 25:30), here is used both for the triumphant shout of the enemy (v. 9) and for the vintagers’ shout, which has ceased.
- 16:12 In vain do the Moabites appeal to their god Chemosh.
- 16:13–14 A prose application of the preceding poetic oracle against Moab (15:1–16:12); cf. Jer 4:8. Like the years of a hired laborer: the fixed period of time for which the hired laborer contracted his services; cf. Is 21:16.
- 17:1 Damascus: capital of Aram or Syria, conquered by Tiglath-pileser III at the end of the Syro-Ephraimite War in 732 B.C.
- 17:3 Ephraim: Israel, leagued with Aram against Judah in the Syro-Ephraimite War. Assyria ravaged and captured most of Israelite territory in 734–733 B.C. Like the glory of the Israelites: the remnant of Aram will be no more impressive than the pitiful remnant of the Northern Kingdom.
- 17:5 Valley of Rephaim: a fertile plain just to the southwest of Jerusalem (cf. Jos 15:8; 2 Sm 5:18). Since it was near a large population center, the fields there would be thoroughly gleaned by the poor after the harvest, leaving very few ears of grain.
- 17:6 Olives not easily picked by hand were knocked from the tree by means of a long stick; cf. 24:13.
- 17:8 Asherahs: see note on Ex 34:13. Incense stands: small altars on which incense was burned; cf. Is 27:9; Lv 26:30.
- 17:10 The Pleasant One: an epithet for a foreign god of fertility, probably Adonis, in whose honor saplings were planted.
- 17:12 Many peoples: the hordes that accompanied the invading Assyrians, whom God repels just as he vanquished the primeval waters of chaos; see notes on Jb 3:8; 7:12; Ps 89:11.
- 17:13–14 The passage seems to evoke the motif of invincibility, part of the early Zion tradition that Jerusalem could not be conquered because God protected it (Ps 48:1–8).
- 18:1–2 Land of buzzing insects: the region of the Upper Nile where these multiplied with great rapidity. Ethiopia: in Hebrew, Kush. The center of this ancient kingdom corresponds geographically to the modern Sudan, Roman Nubia. Papyrus boats: light and serviceable vessels made of bundles of papyrus stalks and sealed with pitch. Egypt, ruled by a dynasty from Ethiopia, had invited Judah to join a coalition against Assyria, but Isaiah told the ambassadors to return to their own people.
- 18:3–6 A more general address but probably relating to the same topic. The Lord will not act at once, but later there will be a “harvest” of terrible destruction, probably directed against Assyria (cf. 14:24–27).
- 19:4 Cruel master…harsh king: possibly the Nubian (Ethiopian) Shabaka who gained control of all of Egypt around 712 B.C.
- 19:11, 13 Zoan, later known as Tanis, and Memphis (Hebrew Noph) were key cities in the Nile Delta.
- 19:15 Head…reed: the leaders and the people; cf. 9:13–14.
- 19:18 Five cities: colonies of Jews living together and speaking their native language; cf. Jer 43. City of the Sun: the meaning is uncertain, but the reference seems to be to the city known later as Heliopolis.
- 20:1 Ashdod: a city of Philistia. In 713 B.C., Azuri, the king of Ashdod was deposed by Sargon for plotting rebellion, but the citizens of Ashdod rejected the ruler installed by the Assyrian king and followed a certain Yamani, who in 712 B.C., with the protection of Egypt, attempted to draw Edom, Moab, and Judah into a coalition against Assyria. In 711 B.C., Sargon’s general marched against Ashdod, and Yamani fled to Ethiopia. Ashdod was captured, and a short time later Ethiopia handed Yamani over to the Assyrians for punishment.
- 20:2–6 Isaiah’s nakedness is a symbolic act to convey the message that Assyria would lead the Egyptians and Ethiopians away as captives. The Judeans and their allies would then realize the folly of having trusted in them. The purpose of the oracle was to dissuade Hezekiah, the Judean king, from being drawn into Ashdod’s anti-Assyrian coalition (14:28–32).
- 21:1–10 This oracle against Babylon is probably to be dated to the period just before the fall of Babylon to the Persians in 539 B.C. (v. 9).
- 21:1 Wastelands by the sea: Babylonia. Negeb: the wilderness south of Judah.
- 21:2 Elam…Media: nations which, under the leadership of Cyrus, captured Babylon in 539 B.C. End to all its groaning: those who were captive of Babylon will be freed.
- 21:5 Babylon is destroyed while its leaders are feasting; cf. Dn 5. Oil the shield: shields were oiled and greased so as to divert blows more easily; cf. 2 Sm 1:21.
- 21:11–12 Dumah: an oasis in north Arabia (cf. Gn 25:14 and 1 Chr 1:30), may be identified with the north Arabian Adummatu mentioned in Assyrian records of Sennacherib’s campaign against north Arabia. Seir: a site in Edom. The Edomites ask the prophet how much longer they must suffer (“the night” of suffering); he answers ambiguously: “Liberation (“morning”) and further suffering (“night”),” but perhaps they will later receive a more encouraging answer (“ask; come back again”).
- 21:13–14 In the steppe: the north Arabian steppe where the oases referred to were located. Dedanites: a north Arabian tribe associated with the oasis of Tema; cf. Gn 10:7; 25:3; Jer 25:23.
- 21:16 Year…of a hired laborer: see note on 16:13–14. Kedar: a nomadic tribe in Arabia; cf. 42:11; 60:7; Ps 120:5.
- 22:1–14 The title “oracle on the valley of vision,” like the other oracle headings in chaps. 13–23, was supplied by an editor and is taken from v. 5. In all probability it relates to the events of 701, the lifting of Sennacherib’s siege of Jerusalem. The death of the Assyrian king Sargon II in 705 occasioned the revolt of many of the vassal nations subject to Assyria, a revolt in which Hezekiah joined, over Isaiah’s bitter opposition. The biblical and other data concerning the outcome of this adventure are conflicting and confusing. While 2 Kgs 19 (Is 37) tells of a miraculous deliverance of the city after the siege had been renewed, Assyrian documents and 2 Kgs 18:13–16 report that Sennacherib, Sargon II’s successor, devastated Judah (the destruction of 46 cities is mentioned in Assyrian records); Hezekiah had to surrender and paid Sennacherib a heavy indemnity, taken from the Temple treasury and adornments. The inhabitants of Jerusalem apparently took the lifting of the siege as occasion for great rejoicing, a response that Isaiah condemns. They should be mourning the dead and learning that their confidence in allies rather than in the Lord leads to disaster.
- 22:2–3 The retreat of Judah’s soldiers is a further reason that rejoicing is not in order.
- 22:5 Valley of Vision: frequently identified as the Hinnom Valley, west of Jerusalem.
- 22:6 Elam…Kir: the Assyrian forces presumably included auxiliary troops from various places.
- 22:8 Shelter over Judah is removed: the reference is obscure; it has been suggested that Judah’s protection was Jerusalem itself, and with the fall of the city the country was exposed. House of the Forest: an armory built by Solomon; its columns of wood suggested the trees of a forest; cf. 1 Kgs 7:2; 10:17.
- 22:9–11 Frenetic efforts made to fortify the city before the impending siege; cf. 2 Kgs 20:20; 2 Chr 32:3–4, 30. Some suggest that the description of these preparations comes from the time of Nebuchadnezzar’s assault on Jerusalem in 588. You did not look to the city’s Maker: Isaiah here makes the crucial point. Jerusalem’s safety lay not in military forces nor in alliances with other nations nor in playing power politics but in the Lord, here presented as the creator and founder of the city. Isaiah may be alluding to the belief that the city was inviolable.
- 22:15 Shebna: by the time of the siege of Jerusalem in 36:3, Shebna, the scribe, no longer held the office of master of the palace.
- 22:16 What is probably Shebna’s inscribed tomb has been discovered in the village of Silwan on the eastern slope of Jerusalem.
- 22:20 Eliakim: by the time of the events described in 36:3, Eliakim had replaced Shebna as master of the palace.
- 22:22 Key: symbol of authority; cf. Mt 16:19; Rev 3:7.
- 22:24–25 Apparently Eliakim proved to be a disappointment, so an oracle of judgment was added to the originally positive oracle to Eliakim.
- 23:1–17 This oracle, a satire directed against the Phoenician cities of Tyre and Sidon, is perhaps to be situated at the time of Sennacherib’s campaign against the Phoenican cities in 701 B.C, following his subjugation of their Babylonian allies in 703 B.C.
- 23:1 Kittim: Cyprus. The Hebrew word is derived from the term for the well-known city of Cyprus, Kition. In later centuries the term Kittim is used for the Greeks, the Romans, and other distant peoples.
- 23:3 Shihor: a synonym for the Nile.
- 23:4 The sea: here personified, it brings to distant coasts the news that Sidon must disown her children; her people are dispersed.
- 23:6–7 Tarshish: perhaps Tartessus in Spain. Distant lands: the reference is to the far-flung colonies established by the Phoenicians throughout the Mediterranean, including North Africa, Spain, and Sardinia. Oceangoing vessels were therefore called Tarshish ships.
- 23:11 Canaan’s strongholds: the fortresses of Phoenicia.
- 23:13 The reference here seems to be to Assyria’s subjugation of Babylon in 703 B.C., which left the coastal cities of Phoenicia as well as Judah open to Sennacherib’s invasion in 701 B.C. Founded it…its palaces…turn it: the city of Babylon.
- 23:15 Seventy years: a conventional expression for a long period of time; cf. Jer 25:11 and 29:10.
- 23:17–18 Her hire…prostitute: the international trade engaged in by Tyre will become a source of wealth to God’s people (cf. 45:14; 60:4–14; Zec 14:14).
- 24:1–27:13 Although it has become traditional to call these chapters “Apocalypse of Isaiah,” and although they do contain some apocalyptic traits, many others are lacking, so that the title is imprecise as a designation. These chapters are not a unified composition and their growth into their present form was a long, complicated process. They echo many themes from chaps. 13–23, “Oracles Against the Foreign Nations,” as well as from earlier parts of Isaiah (e.g., the reversal of the “vineyard song,” 5:1–7, in 27:2–5). Of particular interest is an unnamed city (24:10–13; 25:2; 26:5–6; 27:10–11), a wicked city, doomed to destruction; to the extent that it is identifiable, it may be Babylon, but more generally it symbolizes all forces hostile to God. And it stands in contrast to another city, also unnamed but no doubt to be identified with Jerusalem (26:1–2).
- 24:1–23 The world is about to be shaken by a devastating judgment that will overthrow both the human and divine enemies of the Lord, who will then reign in glory over his people on Mount Zion.
- 24:5 Ancient covenant: God’s commandments to all humankind (cf. Gn 9:4–6).
- 24:10 City of chaos: a godless city which appears several times in chaps. 24–27; see note on 24:1–27:13.
- 24:14 These: the saved.
- 24:21 Host of the heavens: the stars, which were often regarded as gods; cf. Dt 4:19; Jer 8:2.
- 24:23 The elders: the tradition in Ex 24:9–11 suggests that this refers to the people of God who are to share in the banquet on Mount Zion (Is 25:6–8).
- 25:1–9 These verses praise God for carrying out his plan to destroy the enemy and to save the poor of his people in Zion (14:32), and they announce the victory banquet to be celebrated in the Lord’s city.
- 25:6 This mountain: i.e., Jerusalem’s mountain, Zion.
- 25:10–12 Moab: one of Israel’s bitterest enemies.
- 26:1–19 This text is a mixture of praise for the salvation that will take place, a confession of Judah’s inability to achieve deliverance on its own, and earnest prayer that God may quickly bring about the longed-for salvation.
- 26:1 Strong city: Jerusalem, the antithesis of the “city of chaos” (24:10); see note on 24:1–27:13.
- 26:19 This verse refers not to resurrection of the dead, but to the restoration of the people; cf. Ez 37. The population of Judah was radically reduced by the slaughter and deportations that the historical disasters of the late eighth and seventh centuries B.C. brought upon the country. In this context, a major concern for the future was for an increase in the population, a rebirth of the nation’s life.
- 26:20–21 The time of wrath for Judah would soon be over, and the just punishment of its enemies would begin (cf. Hb 2:1–3).
- 27:1 Leviathan…dragon: the description of Leviathan is almost identical to a passage from a much earlier Ugaritic text. The sea dragon became a symbol of the forces of evil which God vanquishes even as he overcame primeval chaos; cf. notes on 30:7; 51:9–10; Jb 3:8; 7:12; no power can challenge God. Leviathan is even spoken of playfully in Ps 104:26.
- 27:2–5 This passage mitigates the harsh words on Israel as the Lord’s vineyard in 5:1–7; here is given the rain there withheld, though Israel’s welfare is still made dependent on fidelity.