New English Translation
27 At that time[a] the Lord will punish
with his destructive,[b] great, and powerful sword
Leviathan the fast-moving[c] serpent,
Leviathan the squirming serpent;
he will kill the sea monster.[d]
2 When that time comes,[e]
sing about a delightful vineyard![f]
3 “I, the Lord, protect it;[g]
I water it regularly.[h]
I guard it night and day,
so no one can harm it.[i]
4 I am not angry.
I wish I could confront some thorns and briers!
Then I would march against them[j] for battle;
I would set them[k] all on fire,
5 unless they became my subjects[l]
and made peace with me;
let them make peace with me.”[m]
6 The time is coming when Jacob will take root;[n]
Israel will blossom and grow branches.
The produce[o] will fill the surface of the world.[p]
7 Has the Lord struck down Israel as he did their oppressors?[q]
Has Israel been killed like their enemies?[r]
8 When you summon her for divorce, you prosecute her;[s]
he drives her away[t] with his strong wind in the day of the east wind.[u]
9 So in this way Jacob’s sin will be forgiven,[v]
and this is how they will show they are finished sinning:[w]
They will make all the stones of the altars[x]
like crushed limestone,
and the Asherah poles and the incense altars will no longer stand.[y]
10 For the fortified city[z] is left alone;
it is a deserted settlement
and abandoned like the wilderness.
Calves[aa] graze there;
they lie down there
and eat its branches bare.[ab]
11 When its branches get brittle,[ac] they break;
women come and use them for kindling.[ad]
For these people lack understanding,[ae]
therefore the one who made them has no compassion on them;
the one who formed them has no mercy on them.
12 At that time[af] the Lord will shake the tree,[ag] from the Euphrates River[ah] to the Stream of Egypt. Then you will be gathered up one by one, O Israelites.[ai] 13 At that time[aj] a large[ak] trumpet will be blown, and the ones lost[al] in the land of Assyria will come, as well as the refugees in[am] the land of Egypt. They will worship the Lord on the holy mountain in Jerusalem.
- Isaiah 27:1 tn Heb “in that day” (so KJV).
- Isaiah 27:1 tn Heb “hard, severe”; cf. NAB, NRSV “cruel”; KJV “sore”; NLT “terrible.”
- Isaiah 27:1 tn Heb “fleeing” (so NAB, NASB, NRSV). Some translate “slippery” or “slithering.” See the same Hebrew phrase in Job 26:13.
- Isaiah 27:1 tn The description of Leviathan should be compared with the following excerpts from Ugaritic mythological texts: (1) “Was not the dragon (Ugaritic tnn, cognate with Hebrew תַנִּין [tannin, translated “sea monster” here]) vanquished and captured? I did destroy the wriggling (Ugaritic ʿqltn, cognate to Hebrew עֲקַלָּתוֹן [ʿaqallaton, translated “squirming” here]) serpent, the tyrant with seven heads (cf. Ps 74:14).” (See CTA 3 iii 38-39.) (2) “for all that you smote Leviathan the slippery (Ugaritic brh, cognate to Hebrew בָּרִחַ [bariakh, translated “fast-moving” here]) serpent, [and] made an end of the wriggling serpent, the tyrant with seven heads” (See CTA 5 i 1-3.) sn In the Ugaritic mythological texts Leviathan is a sea creature that symbolizes the destructive water of the sea and in turn the forces of chaos that threaten the established order. Isaiah here applies imagery from Canaanite mythology to Yahweh’s eschatological victory over his enemies. Elsewhere in the OT, the battle with the sea motif is applied to Yahweh’s victories over the forces of chaos at creation and in history (cf. Pss 74:13-14; 77:16-20; 89:9-10; Isa 51:9-10). Yahweh’s subjugation of the chaos waters is related to His kingship (cf. Pss 29:3, 10; 93:3-4). Apocalyptic literature employs the imagery as well. The beasts of Dan 7 emerge from the sea, while Rev 13 speaks of a seven-headed beast coming from the sea.
- Isaiah 27:2 tn Heb “in that day” (so KJV).
- Isaiah 27:2 tn Heb “vineyard of delight,” or “vineyard of beauty.” Many medieval mss read כֶּרֶם חֶמֶר (kerem khemer, “vineyard of wine”), i.e., “a productive vineyard.”
- Isaiah 27:3 tn Heb “her.” Apparently “vineyard” is the antecedent, though normally this noun is understood as masculine (see Lev 25:3, however).
- Isaiah 27:3 tn Or perhaps, “constantly.” Heb “by moments.”
- Isaiah 27:3 tn Heb “lest [someone] visit [harm] upon it, night and day I guard it.”
- Isaiah 27:4 tn Heb “it.” The feminine singular suffix apparently refers back to the expression “thorns and briers,” understood in a collective sense. For other examples of a cohortative expressing resolve after a hypothetical statement introduced by מִי with נָתָן (mi with natan), see Judg 9:29; Jer 9:1-2; Ps 55:6.
- Isaiah 27:4 tn Heb “it.” The feminine singular suffix apparently refers back to the expression “thorns and briers,” understood in a collective sense.
- Isaiah 27:5 tn Heb “or let him take hold of my refuge.” The subject of the third masculine singular verb form is uncertain. Apparently the symbolic “thorns and briers” are in view, though in v. 4b a feminine singular pronoun was used to refer to them.
- Isaiah 27:5 tc The Hebrew text has, “he makes peace with me; peace he makes with me.” Some contend that two alternative readings are preserved here and one should be deleted. The first has the object שָׁלוֹם (shalom, “peace”) preceding the verb עָשָׂה (ʿasah, “make”); the second reverses the order. Another option is to retain both statements, although repetitive, to emphasize the need to make peace with Yahweh.
- Isaiah 27:6 tc The Hebrew text reads literally, “the coming ones, let Jacob take root.” הַבָּאִים (habbaʾim, “the coming ones”) should probably be emended to יָמִים בָּאִים (yamim baʾim, “days [are] coming”) or בְּיָמִים הַבָּאִים (biyamim habbaʾim, “in the coming days”).
- Isaiah 27:6 tn Heb “fruit” (so KJV, NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV, NLT).
- Isaiah 27:6 sn This apparently refers to a future population explosion. See 26:18.
- Isaiah 27:7 tn The Hebrew text reads literally, “Like the striking down of the one striking him down does he strike him down?” The meaning of the text is unclear, but this may be a rhetorical question, suggesting that Israel has not experienced divine judgment to the same degree as her oppressors. In this case “the one striking…down” refers to Israel’s oppressors, while the pronoun “him” refers to Israel. The subject of the final verb (“does he strike…down”) would then be God, while the pronoun “him” would again refer to Israel.
- Isaiah 27:7 tn The Hebrew text reads literally, “Or like the killing of his killed ones is he killed?” If one accepts the interpretation of the parallel line outlined in the previous note, then this line too would contain a rhetorical question suggesting that Israel has not experienced destruction to the same degree as its enemies. In this case “his killed ones” refer to the ones who struck Israel down, and Israel would be the subject of the final verb (“is he killed”).
- Isaiah 27:8 tn The Hebrew text reads literally, “in [?], in sending her away, you oppose her.” The meaning of this line is uncertain. The form בְּסַאסְּאָה (besasseʾah) is taken as an infinitive from סַאסְּאָה (sasseʾah) with a prepositional prefix and a third feminine singular suffix. (The MT does not have a mappiq in the final he [ה], however). According to HALOT 738 s.v. סַאסְּאָה the verb is a Palpel form from an otherwise unattested root cognate with an Arabic verb meaning “to gather beasts with a call.” Perhaps it means “to call, summon” here, but this is a very tentative proposal. בְּשַׁלְחָהּ (beshalekhah, “in sending her away”) appears to be a Piel infinitive with a prepositional prefix and a third feminine singular suffix. Since the Piel of שָׁלָח (shalakh) can sometimes mean “divorce” (HALOT 1514-15 s.v.) and the following verb רִיב (riv, “oppose”) can be used in legal contexts, it is possible that divorce proceedings are alluded to here. This may explain why Israel is referred to as feminine in this verse, in contrast to the masculine forms used in vv. 6-7 and 9.
- Isaiah 27:8 tn The Hebrew text has no object expressed, but one can understand a third feminine singular pronominal object and place a mappiq in the final he (ה) of the form to indicate the suffix.
- Isaiah 27:8 sn The “east wind” here symbolizes violent divine judgment.
- Isaiah 27:9 tn Or “be atoned for” (NIV); cf. NRSV “be expiated.”
- Isaiah 27:9 tn Heb “and this [is] all the fruit of removing his sin.” The meaning of the statement is not entirely clear, though “removing his sin” certainly parallels “Jacob’s sin will be removed” in the preceding line. If original, “all the fruit” may refer to the result of the decision to remove sin, but the phrase may be a textual variation of an original לְכַפֵּר (lekhapper, “to atone for”), which in turn might be a gloss on הָסִר (hasir, “removing”).
- Isaiah 27:9 tn Heb “when he makes the stones of an altar.” The singular “altar” is collective here; pagan altars are in view, as the last line of the verse indicates. See also 17:8.
- Isaiah 27:9 sn As interpreted and translated above, this verse says that Israel must totally repudiate its pagan religious practices in order to experience God’s forgiveness and restoration. Another option is to understand “in this way” and “this” in v. 9a as referring back to the judgment described in v. 8. In this case כָּפַר (kafar, “atone for”) is used in a sarcastic sense; Jacob’s sin is “atoned for” and removed through severe judgment. Following this line of interpretation, one might paraphrase the verse as follows: “So in this way (through judgment) Jacob’s sin will be “atoned for,” and this is the way his sin will be removed, when he (i.e., God) makes all the altar stones like crushed limestone….” This interpretation is more consistent with the tone of judgment in vv. 8 and 10-11.
- Isaiah 27:10 sn The identity of this city is uncertain. The context suggests that an Israelite city, perhaps Samaria or Jerusalem, is in view. For discussions of interpretive options see J. N. Oswalt, Isaiah (NICOT), 1:496-97, and Paul L. Redditt, “Once Again, the City in Isaiah 24-27, ” HAR 10 (1986), 332.
- Isaiah 27:10 tn The singular form in the text is probably collective.
- Isaiah 27:10 tn Heb “and destroy her branches.” The city is the antecedent of the third feminine singular pronominal suffix. Apparently the city is here compared to a tree. See also v. 11.
- Isaiah 27:11 tn Heb “are dry” (so NASB, NIV, NRSV).
- Isaiah 27:11 tn Heb “women come [and] light it.” The city is likened to a dead tree with dried-up branches that is only good for firewood.
- Isaiah 27:11 tn Heb “for not a people of understanding [is] he.”
- Isaiah 27:12 tn Heb “and it will be in that day.” The verb that introduces this verse serves as a discourse particle and is untranslated; see note on “in the future” in 2:2.
- Isaiah 27:12 tn Heb “the Lord will beat out.” The verb is used of beating seeds or grain to separate the husk from the kernel (see Judg 6:11; Ruth 2:17; Isa 28:27), and of beating the olives off the olive tree (Deut 24:20). The latter metaphor may be in view here, where a tree metaphor has been employed in the preceding verses. See also 17:6.
- Isaiah 27:12 tn Heb “the river,” a frequent designation in the OT for the Euphrates. For clarity most modern English versions substitute the name “Euphrates” for “the river” here.
- Isaiah 27:12 sn The Israelites will be freed from exile (likened to beating the olives off the tree) and then gathered (likened to collecting the olives).
- Isaiah 27:13 tn Heb “and it will be in that day.” The verb that introduces this verse serves as a discourse particle and is untranslated; see note on “in the future” in 2:2.
- Isaiah 27:13 tn Traditionally, “great” (KJV, NAB, NASB, NIV, NLT); CEV “loud.”
- Isaiah 27:13 tn Or “the ones perishing.”
- Isaiah 27:13 tn Or “the ones driven into.”