New American Bible (Revised Edition)
C. Oracles Against the Foreign Nations[a]
2 Upon the bare mountains set up a signal;
cry out to them,[d]
Beckon for them to enter
the gates of the nobles.(A)
3 I have commanded my consecrated ones,[e]
I have summoned my warriors,
eager and bold to carry out my anger.(B)
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.(C)
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[f] is near;
as destruction from the Almighty it comes.(D)
7 Therefore all hands fall helpless,(E)
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.(F)
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!(G)
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.(H)
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.(I)
12 I will make mortals more rare than pure gold,
human beings, than the gold of Ophir.[g](J)
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.(K)
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.(L)
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.(M)
17 I am stirring up against them the Medes,
who think nothing of silver
and take no delight in gold.(N)
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.(O)
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.(P)
21 But desert demons shall rest there
and owls shall fill the houses;
There ostriches shall dwell,
and satyrs[h] shall dance.(Q)
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.(R)
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.(S) 2 The nations will take them and bring them to their place, and the house of Israel will possess them[i] as male and female slaves on the Lord’s land; they will take captive their captors and rule over their oppressors.(T)
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,(U) 4 you will take up this taunt-song[j] against the king of Babylon:(V)
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(W)
6 That struck the peoples in wrath
with relentless blows;
That ruled the nations in anger,
with boundless persecution.(X)
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.”(Y)
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.”(Z)
12 How you have fallen from the heavens,
O Morning Star,[k] son of the dawn!
How you have been cut down to the earth,
you who conquered nations!(AA)
13 In your heart you said:
“I will scale the heavens;
Above the stars of God[l]
I will set up my throne;
I will take my seat on the Mount of Assembly,
on the heights of Zaphon.(AB)
14 I will ascend above the tops of the clouds;
I will be like the Most High!”(AC)
15 No! Down to Sheol you will be brought
to the depths of the pit!(AD)
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;(AE)
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.(AF)
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;(AG)
Lest they rise and possess the earth,
and fill the breadth of the world with cities.[m]
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.(AH) 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[n]
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.(AI)
26 This is the plan proposed for the whole earth,
and this the hand outstretched over all the nations.[o]
27 The Lord of hosts has planned;
who can thwart him?
His hand is stretched out;
who can turn it back?(AJ)
29 [r]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,[s]
without a straggler in its ranks.
32 What will one answer the messengers of the nations?[t]
“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.[v](AK)
3 In the streets they wear sackcloth,
and on the rooftops;
In the squares
everyone wails, streaming with tears.(AL)
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;(AM)
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;(AN)
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 [w]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,[x] 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.[y](AO)
3 [z]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.(AP)
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.(AQ)
7 [aa]Therefore let Moab wail,
let everyone wail for Moab;
For the raisin cakes[ab] 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,[ac]
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[ad] has fallen.(AR)
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.(AS)
11 Therefore for Moab
my heart moans like a lyre,
my inmost being for Kir-hareseth.(AT)
12 [ae]When Moab wears himself out on the high places,
and enters his sanctuary to pray,
it shall avail him nothing.(AU)
13 [af]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.(AV)
1 Oracle on Damascus:[ag]
See, Damascus shall cease to be a city
and become a pile of ruins;(AW)
2 Her cities shall be forever abandoned,
for flocks to lie in undisturbed.
3 The fortress shall vanish from Ephraim[ah]
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.(AX)
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.[ai]
6 [aj]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.(AY)
7 On that day people shall turn to their maker,
their eyes shall look to the Holy One of Israel.(AZ)
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[ak] 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.(BA)
10 Truly, you have forgotten the God who saves you,
the Rock, your refuge, you have not remembered.(BB)
Therefore, though you plant plants for the Pleasant One,[al]
and set out cuttings for a foreign one,(BC)
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—[am]
a roar like the roar of the seas!
The thundering of nations—
thunder like the thundering of mighty waters!(BD)
13 [an]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.(BE)
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.(BF)
1 Ah! Land of buzzing insects,[ao]
beyond the rivers of Ethiopia,(BG)
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.(BH)
3 [ap]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,(BI)
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.(BJ)
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.(BK)
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.(BL)
4 I will deliver Egypt
into the power of a cruel master,
A harsh king[aq] who shall rule over them—
oracle of the Lord, the Lord of hosts.(BM)
5 The waters shall be drained from the sea,
the river shall parch and dry up;(BN)
6 Its streams shall become foul,
and the canals of Egypt shall dwindle and parch.(BO)
Reeds and rushes shall wither away,
7 and bulrushes on the bank of the Nile;(BP)
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;(BQ)
10 The spinners shall be crushed,
all the hired laborers shall be despondent.
11 Utter fools are the princes of Zoan![ar]
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.(BS)
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.(BT)
15 Egypt shall accomplish nothing—
neither head nor tail, palm branch nor reed,[as] 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.(BU) 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[at] 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.(BV) 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.(BW) 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.(BX)
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,(BY) 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,[au] fought against it, and captured it— 2 [av]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.(BZ) 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,(CA) 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.(CB) 5 They shall be dismayed and ashamed because of Ethiopia, their hope, and because of Egypt, their boast.(CC) 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?”(CD)
Fall of Babylon[aw]
1 Oracle on the wastelands by the sea:[ax]
Like whirlwinds sweeping through the Negeb,
it comes from the desert,
from the fearful land.(CE)
2 A harsh vision has been announced to me:
“The traitor betrays,
the despoiler spoils.(CF)
Go up, O Elam; besiege, O Media;[ay]
put an end to all its groaning!”(CG)
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.(CH)
4 My mind reels,
shuddering assails me;
The twilight I yearned for
he has turned into dread.(CI)
5 They set the table,
spread out the rugs;
they eat, they drink.[az](CJ)
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.(CK)
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!’”(CL)
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.(CM)
11 Oracle on Dumah:[ba]
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:[bb]
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.(CN)
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,[bc] 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:[bd](CO)
What is the matter with you now, that you have gone up,
all of you, to the housetops,
2 [be]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.(CQ)
5 It is a day of panic, rout and confusion,
from the Lord, the God of hosts, in the Valley of Vision[bf]
a cry for help to the mountains.
6 Elam takes up the quiver,
Aram mounts the horses
and Kir[bg] uncovers the shields.
7 Your choice valleys are filled with chariots,
horses are posted at the gates—
8 and shelter over Judah is removed.[bh]
On that day you looked to the weapons in the House of the Forest; 9 [bi]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!”(CR)
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,[bj] master of the palace,
16 [bk]“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,[bl] son of Hilkiah;(CS)
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.(CT)
22 I will place the key[bm] of the House of David on his shoulder;
what he opens, no one will shut,
what he shuts, no one will open.(CU)
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:[bn]
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 [bo]Oracle on Tyre:
Wail, ships of Tarshish,
for your port is destroyed;
From the land of the Kittim[bp]
the news reaches them.(CV)
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,[bq] the harvest of the Nile,
you who were the merchant among the nations.(CW)
4 Be ashamed, Sidon, fortress on the sea,
for the sea[br] 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,[bs]
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.(CX)
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:[bt](CY)
12 Crushed, you shall exult no more,
virgin daughter Sidon.
Arise, pass over to the Kittim,
even there you shall find no rest.(CZ)
13 [bu]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.(DA)
14 Lament, ships of Tarshish,
for your stronghold is destroyed.
15 On that day, Tyre shall be forgotten for seventy years,[bv] 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[bw] with all the world’s kingdoms on the face of the earth.(DB) 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.
- 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).