New English Translation
Ariel is Besieged
29 Ariel is as good as dead[a]—
Ariel, the town David besieged![b]
Keep observing your annual rituals;
celebrate your festivals on schedule.[c]
2 I will threaten Ariel,
and she will mourn intensely
and become like an altar hearth[d] before me.
3 I will lay siege to you on all sides;[e]
I will besiege you with troops;[f]
I will raise siege works against you.
4 You will fall;
while lying on the ground[g] you will speak;
from the dust where you lie, your words will be heard.[h]
Your voice will sound like a spirit speaking from the underworld;[i]
from the dust you will chirp as if muttering an incantation.[j]
5 But the horde of invaders will be like fine dust,
the horde of tyrants[k] like chaff that is blown away.
It will happen suddenly, in a flash.
6 Judgment will come from the Lord of Heaven’s Armies,[l]
accompanied by thunder, earthquake, and a loud noise,
by a strong gale, a windstorm, and a consuming flame of fire.
7 It will be like a dream, a night vision.
There will be a horde from all the nations that fight against Ariel,
those who attack her and her stronghold and besiege her.
8 It will be like a hungry man dreaming that he is eating,
only to awaken and find that his stomach is empty.[m]
It will be like a thirsty man dreaming that he is drinking,
only to awaken and find that he is still weak and his thirst unquenched.[n]
So it will be for the horde from all the nations
that fight against Mount Zion.
God’s People Are Spiritually Insensitive
9 You will be shocked and amazed![o]
You are totally blind![p]
They are drunk, but not because of wine;
they stagger,[q] but not because of beer.
10 For the Lord has poured out on you
a strong urge to sleep deeply.[r]
He has shut your eyes (you prophets),
and covered your heads (you seers).
11 To you this entire prophetic revelation[s] is like words in a sealed scroll. When they hand it to one who can read[t] and say, “Read this,” he responds, “I can’t, because it is sealed.” 12 Or when they hand the scroll to one who can’t read[u] and say, “Read this,” he says, “I can’t read.”[v]
13 The Lord[w] says,
“These people say they are loyal to me;[x]
they say wonderful things about me,[y]
but they are not really loyal to me.[z]
Their worship consists of
nothing but man-made ritual.[aa]
14 Therefore I will again do an amazing thing for these people—
an absolutely extraordinary deed.[ab]
Wise men will have nothing to say,
the sages will have no explanations.”[ac]
15 Those who try to hide their plans from the Lord are as good as dead,[ad]
who do their work in secret and boast,[ae]
“Who sees us? Who knows what we’re doing?”[af]
16 Your thinking is perverse![ag]
Should the potter be regarded as clay?[ah]
Should the thing made say[ai] about its maker, “He didn’t make me”?
Or should the pottery say about the potter, “He doesn’t understand”?
Changes Are Coming
17 In just a very short time[aj]
Lebanon will turn into an orchard,
and the orchard will be considered a forest.[ak]
18 At that time[al] the deaf will be able to hear words read from a scroll,
and the eyes of the blind will be able to see through deep darkness.[am]
19 The downtrodden will again rejoice in the Lord;
the poor among humankind will take delight[an] in the Holy One of Israel.[ao]
20 For tyrants will disappear,
those who taunt will vanish,
and all those who love to do wrong will be eliminated[ap]—
21 those who bear false testimony against a person,[aq]
who entrap the one who arbitrates at the city gate[ar]
and deprive the innocent of justice by making false charges.[as]
22 So this is what the Lord, the one who delivered Abraham, has said to the family of Jacob:[at]
“Jacob will no longer be ashamed;
their faces will no longer show their embarrassment.[au]
23 For when they see their children,
whom I will produce among them,[av]
they will honor[aw] my name.
They will honor the Holy One of Jacob;[ax]
they will respect[ay] the God of Israel.
24 Those who stray morally will gain understanding;[az]
those who complain will acquire insight.[ba]
- Isaiah 29:1 tn Heb “Woe [to] Ariel.” The meaning of the name “Ariel” is uncertain. The name may mean “altar hearth” (see v. 2) or, if compound, “lion of God.” The name is used here as a title for Mount Zion/Jerusalem (see vv. 7-8).
- Isaiah 29:1 tn Heb “the town where David camped.” The verb חָנָה (khanah, “camp”) probably has the nuance “lay siege to” here. See v. 3. Another option is to take the verb in the sense of “lived, settled.”
- Isaiah 29:1 tn Heb “Add year to year; let your festivals occur in cycles.” This is probably a sarcastic exhortation to the people to keep up their religious rituals, which will not prevent the coming judgment. See J. N. Oswalt, Isaiah (NICOT), 1:527.
- Isaiah 29:2 tn The term אֲרִיאֵל (ʾariʾel, “Ariel”) is the word translated “altar hearth” here. The point of the simile is not entirely clear. Perhaps the image likens Jerusalem’s coming crisis to a sacrificial fire.
- Isaiah 29:3 tc The Hebrew text has כַדּוּר (khaddur, “like a circle”), i.e., “like an encircling wall.” Some emend this phrase to כְּדָוִד (kedavid, “like David”), which is supported by the LXX (see v. 1). However, the rendering in the LXX could have arisen from a confusion of the dalet (ד) and resh (ר).
- Isaiah 29:3 tn The meaning of מֻצָּב (mutsav) is not certain. Because of the parallelism (note “siege works”), some translate “towers.” The noun is derived from נָצַב (natsav, “take one’s stand”) and may refer to the troops stationed outside the city to prevent entrance or departure.
- Isaiah 29:4 tn Heb “from the ground” (so NIV, NCV).
- Isaiah 29:4 tn Heb “and from the dust your word will be low.”
- Isaiah 29:4 tn Heb “and your voice will be like a ritual pit from the earth.” The Hebrew אוֹב (ʾov, “ritual pit”) refers to a pit used by a magician to conjure up underworld spirits. See the note on “incantations” in 8:19. Here the word is used metonymically for the voice that emerges from such a pit.
- Isaiah 29:4 tn Heb “and from the dust your word will chirp.” The words “as if muttering an incantation” are supplied in the translation for clarification. See the parallelism and 8:19.
- Isaiah 29:5 tn Or “violent men”; cf. NASB “the ruthless ones.”
- Isaiah 29:6 tn Heb “from the Lord of Heaven’s Armies [traditionally, “the Lord of hosts”] there will be visitation.” The third feminine singular passive verb form תִּפָּקֵד (tippaqed, “she/it will be visited”) is used here in an impersonal sense. See GKC 459 §144.b.
- Isaiah 29:8 tn Or “that he [or “his appetite”] is unsatisfied.”
- Isaiah 29:8 tn Or “that he is faint and that he [or “his appetite”] longs [for water].”
- Isaiah 29:9 tn The form הִתְמַהְמְהוּ (hitmahmehu) is a Hitpalpel imperative from מָהַהּ (mahah, “hesitate”). If it is retained, one might translate “halt and be amazed.” The translation assumes an emendation to הִתַּמְּהוּ (hittammehu), a Hitpael imperative from תָּמַה (tamah, “be amazed”). In this case, the text, like Hab 1:5, combines the Hitpael and Qal imperatival forms of תָּמַה (tamah). A literal translation might be “Shock yourselves and be shocked!” The repetition of sound draws attention to the statement. The imperatives here have the force of an emphatic assertion. On this use of the imperative in Hebrew, see GKC 324 §110.c and IBHS 572 §34.4c.
- Isaiah 29:9 tn Heb “Blind yourselves and be blind!” The Hitpalpel and Qal imperatival forms of שָׁעַע (shaʿaʿ, “be blind”) are combined to draw attention to the statement. The imperatives have the force of an emphatic assertion.
- Isaiah 29:9 tc Some prefer to emend the last two verbs from their perfect form to an imperative (e.g., NAB, NCV, NRSV), since the people are addressed in the immediately preceding and following contexts.
- Isaiah 29:10 tn Heb “a disposition [or “spirit”] of deep sleep.” Through this mixed metaphor (sleep is likened to a liquid which one pours and in turn symbolizes spiritual dullness) the prophet emphasizes that God himself has given the people over to their spiritual insensitivity as a form of judgment.
- Isaiah 29:11 tn Heb “vision” (so NASB, NIV, NRSV).
- Isaiah 29:11 tn Heb “one who knows a/the scroll.”
- Isaiah 29:12 tn Heb “and if the scroll is handed to one who does not know a scroll.”
- Isaiah 29:12 tn Heb “I do not know a scroll.”
- Isaiah 29:13 tn The Hebrew term translated “Lord” here is אֲדֹנָי (ʾadonay).
- Isaiah 29:13 tn Heb “Because these people draw near to me with their mouth.”
- Isaiah 29:13 tn Heb “and with their lips they honor me.”
- Isaiah 29:13 tn Heb “but their heart is far from me.” The heart is viewed here as the seat of the will, from which genuine loyalty derives.
- Isaiah 29:13 tn Heb “their fear of me is a commandment of men that has been taught.”
- Isaiah 29:14 tn Heb “Therefore I will again do something amazing with these people, an amazing deed, an amazing thing.” This probably refers to the amazing transformation predicted in vv. 17-24, which will follow the purifying judgment implied in vv. 15-16.
- Isaiah 29:14 tn Heb “the wisdom of their wise ones will perish, the discernment of their discerning ones will keep hidden.”
- Isaiah 29:15 tn Heb “Woe [to] those who deeply hide counsel from the Lord.” This probably alludes to political alliances made without seeking the Lord’s guidance. See 30:1-2 and 31:1.
- Isaiah 29:15 tn Heb “and their works are in darkness, and they say.”
- Isaiah 29:15 tn The rhetorical questions suggest the answer: “No one.” They are confident that their deeds are hidden from others, including God.
- Isaiah 29:16 tn Heb “your overturning.” The predicate is suppressed in this exclamation. The idea is, “O your perversity! How great it is!” See GKC 470 §147.c. The people “overturn” all logic by thinking their authority supersedes God’s.
- Isaiah 29:16 tn The expected answer to this rhetorical question is: “Of course not.” On the interrogative use of אִם (ʾim), see BDB 50 s.v.
- Isaiah 29:16 tn Heb “that the thing made should say.”
- Isaiah 29:17 tn The Hebrew text phrases this as a rhetorical question, “Is it not yet a little, a short [time]?”
- Isaiah 29:17 sn The meaning of this verse is debated, but it seems to depict a reversal in fortunes. The mighty forest of Lebanon (symbolic of the proud and powerful; see 2:13; 10:34) will be changed into a common orchard, while the common orchard (symbolic of the oppressed and lowly) will grow into a great forest. See J. N. Oswalt, Isaiah (NICOT), 1:538.
- Isaiah 29:18 tn Or “In that day” (KJV).
- Isaiah 29:18 tn Heb “and out of gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind will see.”sn Perhaps this depicts the spiritual transformation of the once spiritually insensitive nation (see vv. 10-12, cf. also 6:9-10).
- Isaiah 29:19 tn Or “will rejoice” (NIV, NCV, NLT).
- Isaiah 29:19 sn See the note on the phrase “the Holy One of Israel” in 1:4.
- Isaiah 29:20 tn Heb “and all the watchers of wrong will be cut off.”
- Isaiah 29:21 tn Heb “the ones who make a man a sinner with a word.” The Hiphil of חָטָא (khataʾ) here has a delocutive sense: “declare a man sinful/guilty.”
- Isaiah 29:21 sn Legal disputes were resolved at the city gate, where the town elders met. See Amos 5:10.
- Isaiah 29:21 tn Heb “and deprive by emptiness the innocent.”
- Isaiah 29:22 tn Heb “So this is what the Lord has said to the house of Jacob, the one who ransomed Abraham.” The relative pronoun must refer back to “the Lord.” It is uncertain to what event in Abraham’s experience this refers. Perhaps the name “Abraham” stands here by metonymy for his descendants through Jacob. If so, the Exodus is in view.
- Isaiah 29:22 tn Heb “and his face will no longer be pale.”
- Isaiah 29:23 tn Heb “for when he sees his children, the work of my hands in his midst.”
- Isaiah 29:23 tn Or “treat as holy” (also in the following line); NASB, NRSV “will sanctify.”
- Isaiah 29:23 sn Holy One of Jacob is similar to the phrase “Holy One of Israel” common throughout Isaiah; see the sn at Isa 1:4.
- Isaiah 29:23 tn Or “fear,” in the sense of “stand in awe of.”
- Isaiah 29:24 tn Heb “and the ones who stray in spirit will know understanding.”
- Isaiah 29:24 tn Heb “will learn instruction”; cf. NASB, NIV, NRSV, NLT “will accept instruction.”