Ephraim’s Captivity Predicted
28 Woe (judgment is coming) to [Samaria] the splendid crown of the drunkards of [a]Ephraim,
And to the fading flower of its glorious beauty,
Which is at the head of the rich valley
Of those who are overcome with wine!
Listen carefully, the Lord has a strong and mighty agent [the Assyrian];
Like a tempest of hail, a disastrous storm,
Like a tempest of mighty overflowing waters,
He has cast it down to the earth with His hand.
The splendid crown of the drunkards of Ephraim is trampled by [the foreigners’] feet.
And the fading flower of its glorious beauty,
Which is at the head of the rich valley,
Will be like the early fig before the summer,
Which one sees,
And as soon as it is in his hand
He [greedily] swallows it [and so will the Assyrians rapidly devour Samaria, Israel’s capital].
In that day the Lord of hosts will become a magnificent crown
And a glorious diadem to the [converted] remnant of His people,
A spirit of justice for him who sits in judgment [administering the law],
A strength to those who drive back the battle at the gate.
But even these reel with wine and stagger from strong drink:
The priest and the prophet reel with strong drink;
They are confused by wine, they stagger from strong drink;
They reel while seeing visions,
They stagger when pronouncing judgment.
For all the tables are full of filthy vomit, so that there is no place [that is clean.]
They say “To whom would He teach knowledge?
And to whom would He explain the message?
Those just weaned from milk?
Those just taken from the breast?
“For He says,
‘Precept upon precept, precept upon precept,
Rule upon rule, rule upon rule,
Here a little, there a little.’”
Indeed, the Lord will teach this people [in a more humiliating way]
By [men with] stammering lips and a foreign tongue,
He who said to them, “This is the place of quiet, give rest to the weary,”
And, “This is the resting place,” yet they would not listen.
Therefore the word of the Lord to them will be [merely monotonous repetitions]:
“Precept upon precept, precept upon precept,
Rule upon rule, rule upon rule,
Here a little, there a little.”
That they may go and stumble backward, and be broken, ensnared, and taken captive.
Judah Is Warned
Therefore, hear the word of the Lord, you arrogant men
Who rule this people who are in Jerusalem!
Because you have said, “We have made a covenant with death,
And with Sheol (the place of the dead) we have made an agreement,
When the overwhelming scourge passes by, it will not reach us,
For we have made lies our refuge and we have concealed ourselves in deception.”
16 Therefore the Lord God says this,
“Listen carefully, I am laying in Zion a Stone, a tested Stone,
A precious Cornerstone for the [secure] foundation, firmly placed.
He who believes [who trusts in, relies on, and adheres to that Stone] will not [b]be disturbed or give way [in sudden panic].(A)
“I will make justice the measuring line
And righteousness the mason’s level;
Then hail will sweep away the refuge of lies
And waters will flood over the secret [hiding] place.
“Your covenant with death will be annulled,
And your agreement with Sheol (the place of the dead) will not stand;
When the overwhelming scourge passes through,
Then you will become its trampling ground.
“As often as it passes through, it will seize you;
For morning after morning it will pass through, by day and by night,
And it will be sheer terror to understand what it means.”
For the bed is too short to stretch out on,
And the blanket is too narrow to wrap around oneself [and likewise all their preparations are inadequate].
For the Lord will rise up as at Mount Perazim,
He will be stirred up as in the Valley of Gibeon,
To do His work, His unusual and incredible work,
And to accomplish His work, His extraordinary work.(B)
Now do not carry on as scoffers,
Or the bands which bind you will be made stronger;
For I have heard from the Lord God of hosts [a decree]
Of decisive destruction on all the earth.
Listen and hear my voice;
Listen carefully and hear my words.
Does the farmer plow all day to plant seed?
Does he continually dig furrows and harrow his ground [after it is prepared]?
When he has leveled its surface,
Does he not sow [the seed of] dill and scatter cumin,
And plant wheat in rows,
And barley in its [intended] place and [c]rye within its border?
For his God instructs [him correctly] and teaches him properly.
For dill is not threshed with a sharp threshing sledge,
Nor is a cartwheel rolled over cumin;
But dill is beaten out with a staff, and cumin with a rod.
Bread grain is crushed fine,
Indeed, the farmer does not continue to thresh it forever.
Because the wheel of his cart and his horses eventually damage it,
He does not thresh it longer.
This also comes from the Lord of hosts,
Who has made His counsel wonderful and His wisdom great.
Jerusalem Is Warned
29 Woe (judgment is coming) to [d]Ariel, to Ariel, the city where David [once] camped!
Add [e]yet another year; let the feasts run their course [but only one year more].
Then I will harass Ariel,
And she will be a city of mourning and lamenting (crying out in grief)
Yet she will be like an [f]Ariel [an altar hearth] to Me.
I will camp against you and encircle you,
And I will hem you in with siege works,
And I will raise fortifications against you.
Then you [Jerusalem] will be brought low,
You will speak from the earth,
And from the dust where you lie face down
Your muffled words will come.
Your voice will also be like that of a spirit from the earth [like one produced by a medium],
And your speech will whisper and squeak from the dust.
But the multitude of your enemies [that assault you] will become like fine dust,
And the multitude of the tyrants like the chaff which [g]blows away;
And it will happen in an instant, suddenly [that your enemy is destroyed].
You will be punished by the Lord of hosts with thunder and earthquake and great noise,
With whirlwind and tempest and the flame of a consuming fire.
And the multitude of all the nations that fight against Ariel (Jerusalem),
Even all who fight against her and her stronghold, and who distress her,
Will be like a dream, a vision of the night.
It will be as when a hungry man dreams
That he is eating,
But when he awakens, his [h]hunger is not satisfied;
Or as when a thirsty man dreams
That he is drinking,
But when he awakens, in fact, he is faint
And his thirst is not quenched.
So will the multitude of all the nations be
Who fight against Mount Zion.
Stop and take some time and wonder [at this prophecy],
Blind yourselves and be blinded [at its fulfillment by your spiritual incompetence].
They are drunk, but not from wine;
They stagger, but not from strong drink.
For the Lord has poured over you a spirit of deep sleep.
He has closed your eyes, [you who are] the prophets;
And He has covered your heads, [you who are] the seers.
11 The entire vision [of all these things] will be to you like the words of a scroll that is sealed, which they give to one who can read, saying, “Read this, please,” he shall say, “I cannot, for it is sealed.” 12 Then the book will be given to the one who cannot read, saying, “Read this, please.” And he will say, “I cannot read.”
13 Then the Lord said,
“Because this nation approaches [Me only] with their words
And honors Me [only] with their lip service,
But they remove their hearts far from Me,
And their reverence for Me is a tradition that is learned by rote [without any regard for its meaning],
Therefore, listen carefully, I will again do marvelous and amazing things with this people, wonderful and astonishing things;
And the wisdom of their wise men will perish,
And the understanding of their discerning men will be hidden.”
Woe (judgment is coming) to those who [try to] deeply hide their plans from the Lord,
Whose deeds are done in a dark place,
And who say, “Who sees us?” or “Who knows us?”
You turn things upside down [with your perversity]!
Shall the potter be considered equal with the clay,
That the thing that is made would say to its maker, “He did not make me”;
Or the thing that is formed say to him who formed it, “He has no understanding”?
Blessing after Discipline
Is it not yet a very little while
Until Lebanon will be turned into a fertile field,
And the fertile field regarded as a forest?
On that day the deaf will hear the words of a book,
And out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind will see [the words of the book].
The afflicted also will increase their joy in the Lord,
And the needy of mankind will rejoice and celebrate in the Holy One of Israel.
For the tyrant will come to an end and the scorner will be finished,
Indeed all who are intent on doing evil will be cut off—
Those who cause a person to be condemned with a [false] word,
And lay a trap for him who upholds justice at the [city] gate,
And defraud the one in the right with meaningless arguments.
22 Therefore, the Lord, who redeemed Abraham [from paganism] says this, concerning the house of Jacob (Israel):
“Jacob will not be ashamed, nor will his face turn pale [with disappointment because of his children’s degenerate behavior];
For when he sees his children, the work of My hands, in his midst,
They will sanctify My Name;
They will sanctify the Holy One of Jacob
And will stand in awe and reverent fear of the God of Israel.
“Those who err in mind will know the truth,
And those who criticize and murmur discontentedly will accept instruction.
Judah Warned against Egyptian Alliance
30 “Woe (judgment is coming) to the rebellious children,” declares the Lord,
“Who carry out a plan, but not Mine,
And make an alliance [by pouring out a libation], but not of My Spirit,
In order to add sin to sin;
Who proceed down to Egypt
Without consulting [i]Me,
To take refuge in the stronghold of Pharaoh
And to take shelter in the shadow of Egypt!
“Therefore the safety and protection of Pharaoh will be your shame
And the refuge in the shadow of Egypt, your humiliation and disgrace.
“For his princes are at Zoan
And his ambassadors arrive at Hanes [in Egypt].
“All will be ashamed because of a people (the Egyptians) who cannot benefit them,
Who are not a help or benefit, but a shame and also a disgrace.”
6 A [mournful, inspired] oracle ([j]a burden to be carried) concerning the beasts of the Negev (the South):
Through a land of trouble and anguish,
From [k]where come lioness and lion, viper and [fiery] flying serpent,
They carry their riches on the shoulders of young donkeys
And their treasures on the humps of camels,
To a people (Egyptians) who cannot benefit them.
For Egypt’s help is worthless and good for nothing.
Therefore, I have called her
“Rahab Who Has Been Exterminated.”
Now, go, write it on a tablet before them
And inscribe it on a scroll,
So that it may serve in the time to come
As a witness [against them] forevermore.
For this is a rebellious people, lying sons,
Sons who refuse to listen to
The law and instruction of the Lord;
Who say to the seers, “You must not see visions from God”;
And to the prophets, “You must not prophesy to us what is right!
Speak to us pleasant things and smooth words,
Prophesy [deceitful] illusions [that we will enjoy].
“Get out of the [true] way, turn aside from the path [of God],
Stop bothering us with the Holy One of Israel.”
12 Therefore, the Holy One of Israel says this,
“Because you have refused and rejected this word [of Mine]
And have put your trust in oppression and guile, and have relied on them,
Therefore this wickedness [this sin, this injustice, this wrongdoing] will be to you
Like a crack [in a wall] about to fall,
A bulge in a high wall,
Whose collapse comes suddenly in an instant,
“Whose collapse is like the smashing of a potter’s jar,
Crushed so savagely
that there cannot be found among its pieces a potsherd [large enough]
To take [coals of] fire from a fireplace,
Or to scoop water from a cistern.”
15 For the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel has said this,
“In returning [to Me] and rest you shall be saved,
In quietness and confident trust is your strength.”
But you were not willing,
And you said, “No! We will flee on horses!”
Therefore you will flee [from your enemies]!
And [you said], “We will ride on swift horses!”
Therefore those who pursue you shall be swift.
A thousand of you will flee at the threat of one man;
You will flee at the threat of five,
Until you are left like a flag on the top of a mountain,
And like a signal on a hill.
God Is Gracious and Just
Therefore the Lord waits [expectantly] and longs to be gracious to you,
And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you.
[l]For the Lord is a God of justice;
Blessed (happy, fortunate) are all those who long for Him [since He will never fail them].(C)
19 [m]O people in Zion, inhabitant in Jerusalem, you will weep no longer. He will most certainly be gracious to you at the sound of your cry for help; when He hears it, He will answer you. 20 Though the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of oppression, yet your Teacher will no longer hide Himself, but your eyes will [constantly] see your Teacher. 21 Your ears will hear a word behind you, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right or to the left. 22 And you will defile your carved images overlaid with silver, and your cast images plated with gold. You will scatter them like a bloodstained cloth, and will say to them, “Be gone!”
23 Then He will give you rain for the seed with which you sow the ground, and bread [grain] from the produce of the ground, and it will be rich and plentiful. In that day your livestock will graze in large and roomy pastures. 24 Also the oxen and the young donkeys that work the ground will eat salted fodder, which has been winnowed with shovel and pitchfork. 25 On every lofty mountain and on every high hill there will be streams of water on the day of the great slaughter (the day of the Lord), when the towers fall [and all His enemies are destroyed]. 26 The light of the full moon will be like the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be seven times brighter, like the light of seven days [concentrated in one], in the day the Lord binds up the fracture of His people and heals the wound He has inflicted [because of their sins].
Now look, the [n]name of the Lord comes from far away,
Burning with His anger, and heavy with [o]smoke;
His lips are full of [p]indignation,
And His tongue is like a consuming fire.
His breath is like an overflowing river,
Which reaches to the neck,
To sift the nations back and forth in a sieve [of disaster],
And to put in the jaws of the peoples the bridle which leads to ruin.
You will have a song as in the night when a holy feast is kept,
And joy of heart as when one marches [in procession] with a flute,
To go to the [temple on the] mountain of the Lord, to the Rock of Israel.
And the Lord will make His majestic voice heard,
And show the descending of His arm [striking] in [His] fierce anger,
And in the flame of a devouring fire,
In the crashing sound of heavy rain, cloudburst, and hailstones.
For at the voice of the Lord the Assyrians will be terrified,
When He strikes [them] with the rod.
And every blow of the rod of punishment,
Which the Lord will lay on them,
Will be to the music of Israel’s tambourines and lyres;
And in battles, brandishing weapons, He will fight Assyria.
For [q]Topheth [in Hinnom] has long been ready;
Indeed, it has been prepared for the [Assyrian] king.
He has made it deep and wide,
A pit of fire with plenty of wood;
The breath of the Lord, like a river of brimstone (blazing sulfur), kindles and fans it.(D)
- Isaiah 28:1 I.e. the ten northern tribes of Israel.
- Isaiah 28:16 The Septuagint (Greek translation of the Old Testament) reads “be put to shame,” a phrase which occurs frequently in pleas to God.
- Isaiah 28:25 A subspecies of common wheat.
- Isaiah 29:1 Hebrew for “Lion of God,” referring to Jerusalem.
- Isaiah 29:1 Lit year to year.
- Isaiah 29:2 “Ariel” and the Hebrew word for “altar hearth” are spelled and pronounced the same.
- Isaiah 29:5 Lit passes.
- Isaiah 29:8 Lit soul is empty.
- Isaiah 30:2 Lit My mouth.
- Isaiah 30:6 I.e. an urgent message the prophet is under compulsion to proclaim.
- Isaiah 30:6 Lit them.
- Isaiah 30:18 The ancient rabbis posed the question of why God waits to bring in the kingdom, if both He and Israel desire it. Their answer was that God’s attribute of justice delays it, i.e. that Israel is not yet deserving of it. Nevertheless, they maintained, it is meritorious to look forward to it, and those who do will be blessed (rewarded).
- Isaiah 30:19 MT reads For a people will dwell in Zion, in Jerusalem.
- Isaiah 30:27 The revelation of the power and glory and brilliance of God.
- Isaiah 30:27 Lit lifting up, possibly referring to clouds.
- Isaiah 30:27 Lit cursing.
- Isaiah 30:33 A pagan site where children were burned as sacrifices to Molech, a Semitic god.