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13 So the Lord’s message to them will sound like
meaningless gibberish,
senseless babbling,
a syllable here, a syllable there.[a]
As a result, they will fall on their backsides when they try to walk,[b]
and be injured, ensnared, and captured.[c]

The Lord Will Judge Jerusalem

14 Therefore, listen to the Lord’s message,
you who mock,
you rulers of these people
who reside in Jerusalem.
15 For you say,
“We have made a treaty with death,
with Sheol[d] we have made an agreement.[e]
When the overwhelming judgment sweeps by[f]
it will not reach us.
For we have made a lie our refuge,
we have hidden ourselves in a deceitful word.”[g]
16 Therefore, this is what the Sovereign Lord, says:

“Look, I am laying[h] a stone in Zion,
an approved[i] stone,
set in place as a precious cornerstone for the foundation.[j]
The one who maintains his faith will not panic.[k]

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  1. Isaiah 28:13 tn Heb “And the message of the Lord will be to them, ‘tsav latsav,’ etc.” See the note at v. 10. In this case the “Lord’s message” is not the foreigner’s strange sounding words (as in v. 10), but the Lord’s repeated appeals to them (like the one quoted in v. 12). As time goes on, the Lord’s appeals through the prophets will have no impact on the people; they will regard prophetic preaching as gibberish.
  2. Isaiah 28:13 tn Heb “as a result they will go and stumble backward.” Perhaps an infant falling as it attempts to learn to walk is the background image here (cf. v. 9b). The Hebrew term לְמַעַן (lemaʿan) could be taken as indicating purpose (“in order that”), rather than simple result. In this case the people’s insensitivity to the message is caused by the Lord as a means of expediting their downfall.
  3. Isaiah 28:13 sn When divine warnings and appeals become gibberish to the spiritually insensitive, they have no guidance and are doomed to destruction.
  4. Isaiah 28:15 sn Sheol is the underworld, land of the dead, according to the OT world view.
  5. Isaiah 28:15 tn Elsewhere the noun חֹזֶה (khozeh) refers to a prophet who sees visions. In v. 18 the related term חָזוּת (khazut, “vision”) is used. The parallelism in both verses (note “treaty”) seems to demand a meaning “agreement” for both nouns. Perhaps חֹזֶה and חזוּת are used in a metonymic sense in vv. 15 and 18. Another option is to propose a homonymic root. See J. N. Oswalt, Isaiah (NICOT), 1:514, and HALOT 301 s.v. II חֹזֶה.
  6. Isaiah 28:15 tn Heb “the overwhelming scourge, when it passes by” (NRSV similar).
  7. Isaiah 28:15 sn “Lie” and “deceitful word” would not be the terms used by the people. They would likely use the words “promise” and “reliable word,” but the prophet substitutes “lie” and “deceitful word” to emphasize that this treaty with death will really prove to be disappointing.
  8. Isaiah 28:16 tc The Hebrew text has a third person verb form, which does not agree with the first person suffix that precedes. The form should be emended to יֹסֵד (yosed), a Qal active participle used in a present progressive or imminent future sense.
  9. Isaiah 28:16 tn Traditionally “tested,” but the implication is that it has passed the test and stands approved.
  10. Isaiah 28:16 sn The reality behind the metaphor is not entirely clear from the context. The stone appears to represent someone or something that gives Zion stability. Perhaps the ideal Davidic ruler is in view (see 32:1). Another option is that the image of beginning a building project by laying a precious cornerstone suggests that God is about to transform Zion through judgment and begin a new covenant community that will experience his protection (see 4:3-6; 31:5; 33:20-24; 35:10).
  11. Isaiah 28:16 tn Heb “will not hurry,” i.e., act in panic.