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Isaiah 11

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An Ideal King Establishes a Kingdom of Peace

11:1 A shoot will grow out of Jesse’s 1  root stock,

a bud will sprout 2  from his roots.

11:2 The Lord’s spirit will rest on him 3 

a spirit that gives extraordinary wisdom, 4 

a spirit that provides the ability to execute plans, 5 

a spirit that produces absolute loyalty to the Lord. 6 

11:3 He will take delight in obeying the Lord. 7 

He will not judge by mere appearances, 8 

or make decisions on the basis of hearsay. 9 

11:4 He will treat the poor fairly, 10 

and make right decisions 11  for the downtrodden of the earth. 12 

He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, 13 

and order the wicked to be executed. 14 

11:5 Justice will be like a belt around his waist,

integrity will be like a belt around his hips. 15 

11:6 A wolf will reside 16  with a lamb,

and a leopard will lie down with a young goat;

an ox and a young lion will graze together, 17 

as a small child leads them along.

11:7 A cow and a bear will graze together,

their young will lie down together. 18 

A lion, like an ox, will eat straw.

11:8 A baby 19  will play

over the hole of a snake; 20 

over the nest 21  of a serpent

an infant 22  will put his hand. 23 

11:9 They will no longer injure or destroy

on my entire royal mountain. 24 

For there will be universal submission to the Lord’s sovereignty,

just as the waters completely cover the sea. 25 

Israel is Reclaimed and Reunited

11:10 At that time 26  a root from Jesse 27  will stand like a signal flag for the nations. Nations will look to him for guidance, 28  and his residence will be majestic. 11:11 At that time 29  the sovereign master 30  will again lift his hand 31  to reclaim 32  the remnant of his people 33  from Assyria, Egypt, Pathros, 34  Cush, 35  Elam, Shinar, 36  Hamath, and the seacoasts. 37 

11:12 He will lift a signal flag for the nations;

he will gather Israel’s dispersed people 38 

and assemble Judah’s scattered people

from the four corners of the earth.

11:13 Ephraim’s jealousy will end, 39 

and Judah’s hostility 40  will be eliminated.

Ephraim will no longer be jealous of Judah,

and Judah will no longer be hostile toward Ephraim.

11:14 They will swoop down 41  on the Philistine hills to the west; 42 

together they will loot the people of the east.

They will take over Edom and Moab, 43 

and the Ammonites will be their subjects.

11:15 The Lord will divide 44  the gulf 45  of the Egyptian Sea; 46 

he will wave his hand over the Euphrates River 47  and send a strong wind, 48 

he will turn it into seven dried-up streams, 49 

and enable them to walk across in their sandals.

11:16 There will be a highway leading out of Assyria

for the remnant of his people, 50 

just as there was for Israel,

when 51  they went up from the land of Egypt.

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1 sn The text mentions David’s father Jesse, instead of the great king himself. Perhaps this is done for rhetorical reasons to suggest that a new David, not just another disappointing Davidic descendant, will arise. Other prophets call the coming ideal Davidic king “David” or picture him as the second coming of David, as it were. See Jer 30:9; Ezek 34:23-24; 37:24-25; Hos 3:5; and Mic 5:2 (as well as the note there).

2 tc The Hebrew text has יִפְרֶה (yifreh, “will bear fruit,” from פָּרָה, parah), but the ancient versions, as well as the parallelism suggest that יִפְרַח (yifrakh, “will sprout”, from פָּרַח, parakh) is the better reading here. See J. N. Oswalt, Isaiah (NICOT), 1:276, n. 2.

3 sn Like David (1 Sam 16:13), this king will be energized by the Lord’s spirit.

4 tn Heb “a spirit of wisdom and understanding.” The synonyms are joined here to emphasize the degree of wisdom he will possess. His wisdom will enable him to make just legal decisions (v. 3). A very similar phrase occurs in Eph 1:17.

5 tn Heb “a spirit of counsel [or “strategy”] and strength.” The construction is a hendiadys; the point is that he will have the strength/ability to execute the plans/strategies he devises. This ability will enable him to suppress oppressors and implement just policies (v. 4).

6 tn Heb “a spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord.” “Knowledge” is used here in its covenantal sense and refers to a recognition of God’s authority and a willingness to submit to it. See Jer 22:16. “Fear” here refers to a healthy respect for God’s authority which produces obedience. Taken together the two terms emphasize the single quality of loyalty to the Lord. This loyalty guarantees that he will make just legal decisions and implement just policies (vv. 4-5).

7 tn The Hebrew text reads literally, “and his smelling is in the fear of the Lord.” In Amos 5:21 the Hiphil of רוּחַ (ruakh, “smell”) carries the nuance of “smell with delight, get pleasure from.” There the Lord declares that he does not “smell with delight” (i.e., get pleasure from) Israel’s religious assemblies, which probably stand by metonymy for the incense offered during these festivals. In Isa 11:3 there is no sacrificial context to suggest such a use, but it is possible that “the fear of the Lord” is likened to incense. This coming king will get the same kind of delight from obeying (fearing) the Lord, as a deity does in the incense offered by worshipers. Some regard such an explanation as strained in this context, and prefer to omit this line from the text as a virtual dittograph of the preceding statement.

8 tn Heb “by what appears to his eyes”; KJV “after the sight of his eyes”; NIV “by what he sees with his eyes.”

9 tn Heb “by what is heard by his ears”; NRSV “by what his ears hear.”

10 tn Heb “with justice” (so NAB) or “with righteousness” (so KJV, NASB, NIV, NRSV).

11 tn Heb “make decisions with rectitude”; cf. ASV, NRSV “and decide with equity.”

12 tn Or “land” (NAB, NCV, CEV). It is uncertain if the passage is picturing universal dominion or focusing on the king’s rule over his covenant people. The reference to God’s “holy mountain” in v. 9 and the description of renewed Israelite conquests in v. 14 suggest the latter, though v. 10 seems to refer to a universal kingdom (see 2:2-4).

13 tc The Hebrew text reads literally, “and he will strike the earth with the scepter of his mouth.” Some have suggested that in this context אֶרֶץ (’erets, “earth”) as an object of judgment seems too broad in scope. The parallelism is tighter if one emends the word to ץ(י)עָרִ (’arits, “potentate, tyrant”). The phrase “scepter of his mouth” refers to the royal (note “scepter”) decrees that he proclaims with his mouth. Because these decrees will have authority and power (see v. 2) behind them, they can be described as “striking” the tyrants down. Nevertheless, the MT reading may not need emending. Isaiah refers to the entire “earth” as the object of God’s judgment in several places without specifying the wicked as the object of the judgment (Isa 24:17-21; 26:9, 21; 28:22; cf. 13:11).

14 tn Heb “and by the breath of his lips he will kill the wicked.” The “breath of his lips” refers to his speech, specifically in this context his official decrees that the wicked oppressors be eliminated from his realm. See the preceding note.

15 tn Heb “Justice will be the belt [or “undergarment”] on his waist, integrity the belt [or “undergarment”] on his hips.” The point of the metaphor is uncertain. If a belt worn outside the robe is in view, then the point might be that justice/integrity will be readily visible or that these qualities will give support to his rule. If an undergarment is in view, then the idea might be that these characteristics support his rule or that they are basic to everything else.

16 tn The verb גּוּר (gur) normally refers to living as a dependent, resident alien in another society.

17 tc The Hebrew text reads, “and an ox, and a young lion, and a fatling together.” Since the preceding lines refer to two animals and include a verb, many emend וּמְרִיא (umÿri’, “and the fatling”) to an otherwise unattested verb יִמְרְאוּ (yimrÿu, “they will graze”); cf. NAB, TEV, CEV. One of the Qumran copies of Isaiah confirms this suggestion (1QIsaa). The present translation assumes this change.

18 tn Heb “and a cow and a bear will graze – together – they will lie down, their young.” This is a case of pivot pattern; יַחְדָּו (yakhddav, “together”) goes with both the preceding and following statements.

19 tn Heb “one sucking,” i.e., still being nursed by his mother.

20 tn Or perhaps, “cobra” (cf. NAB, NASB, NIV, NCV); KJV, ASV, NRSV “asp.”

21 tc The Hebrew text has the otherwise unattested מְאוּרַת (mÿurat, “place of light”), i.e., opening of a hole. Some prefer to emend to מְעָרַת (mÿarat, “cave, den”).

22 tn Heb “one who is weaned” (cf. KJV, ASV, NASB, NRSV).

23 sn The transformation of the animal kingdom depicted here typifies what will occur in human society under the just rule of the ideal king (see vv. 3-5). The categories “predator-prey” (i.e., oppressor-oppressed) will no longer exist.

24 tn Heb “in all my holy mountain.” In the most basic sense the Lord’s “holy mountain” is the mountain from which he rules over his kingdom (see Ezek 28:14, 16). More specifically it probably refers to Mount Zion/Jerusalem or to the entire land of Israel (see Pss 2:6; 15:1; 43:3; Isa 56:7; 57:13; Ezek 20:40; Ob 16; Zeph 3:11). If the Lord’s universal kingdom is in view in this context (see the note on “earth” at v. 4), then the phrase would probably be metonymic here, standing for God’s worldwide dominion (see the next line).

25 tn Heb “for the earth will be full of knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” The translation assumes that a universal kingdom is depicted here, but אֶרֶץ (’erets) could be translated “land” (see the note at v. 4). “Knowledge of the Lord” refers here to a recognition of the Lord’s sovereignty which results in a willingness to submit to his authority. See the note at v. 2.

26 tn Or “in that day” (KJV). The verb that introduces this verse serves as a discourse particle and is untranslated; see note on “in the future” in 2:2.

27 sn See the note at v. 1.

28 tn Heb “ a root from Jesse, which stands for a signal flag of the nations, of him nations will inquire” [or “seek”].

29 tn Or “in that day” (KJV). The verb that introduces this verse serves as a discourse particle and is untranslated; see note on “in the future” in 2:2.

30 tn The Hebrew term translated “sovereign master” here is אֲדֹנָי (’adonai).

31 tc The Hebrew text reads, “the sovereign master will again, a second time, his hand.” The auxiliary verb יוֹסִיף (yosif), which literally means “add,” needs a main verb to complete it. Consequently many emend שֵׁנִית (shenit, “a second time”) to an infinitive. Some propose the form שַׁנֹּת (shannot, a Piel infinitive construct from שָׁנָה, shanah) and relate it semantically to an Arabic cognate meaning “to be high.” If the Hebrew text is retained a verb must be supplied. “Second time” would allude back to the events of the Exodus (see vv. 15-16).

32 tn Or “acquire”; KJV, ASV, NASB, NRSV “recover.”

33 tn Heb “the remnant of his people who remain.”

34 sn Perhaps a reference to Upper (i.e., southern) Egypt (so NIV, NLT; NCV “South Egypt”).

35 tn Or “Ethiopia” (NAB, NRSV, NLT).

36 tn Or “Babylonia” (NIV, NCV, TEV, NLT).

37 tn Or perhaps, “the islands of the sea.”

38 tn Or “the banished of Israel,” i.e., the exiles.

39 tn Heb “turn aside”; KJV, NASB, NRSV “depart.”

40 tn Heb “hostile ones of Judah.” Elsewhere when the substantival participle of צָרָר (tsarar) takes a pronominal suffix or appears in a construct relationship, the following genitive is objective. (For a list of texts see BDB 865 s.v. III צָרַר) In this case the phrase “hostile ones of Judah” means “those who are hostile toward Judah,” i.e., Judah’s enemies. However, the parallel couplet that follows suggests that Judah’s hostility toward Ephraim is in view. In this case “hostile ones of Judah” means “hostile ones from Judah.” The translation above assumes the latter, giving the immediate context priority over general usage.

41 tn Heb “fly.” Ephraim/Judah are compared to a bird of prey.

42 tn Heb “on the shoulder of Philistia toward the sea.” This refers to the slopes of the hill country west of Judah. See HALOT 506 s.v. כָּתֵף.

43 tn Heb “Edom and Moab [will be the place of] the outstretching of their hand,” i.e., included in their area of jurisdiction (see HALOT 648 s.v. ח(וֹ)מִשְׁלֹ).

44 tn The verb is usually understood as “put under the ban, destroy,” or emended to חָרָב (kharav, “dry up”). However, HALOT 354 s.v. II חרם proposes a homonymic root meaning “divide.”

45 tn Heb “tongue” (so KJV, NAB, NASB, NRSV).

46 sn That is, the Red Sea.

47 tn Heb “the river”; capitalized in some English versions (e.g., ASV, NASB, NRSV) as a reference to the Euphrates River.

48 tn Heb “with the [?] of his wind” [or “breath”]. The Hebrew term עַיָם (’ayam) occurs only here. Some attempt to relate the word to an Arabic root and translate, “scorching [or “hot”] wind.” This interpretation fits especially well if one reads “dry up” in the previous line. Others prefer to emend the form to עֹצֶם (’otsem, “strong”). See HALOT 817 s.v. עֲצַם.

49 tn Heb “seven streams.” The Hebrew term נַחַל (nakhal, “stream”) refers to a wadi, or seasonal stream, which runs during the rainy season, but is otherwise dry. The context (see v. 15b) here favors the translation, “dried up streams.” The number seven suggests totality and completeness. Here it indicates that God’s provision for escape will be thorough and more than capable of accommodating the returning exiles.

50 tn Heb “and there will be a highway for the remnant of his people who remain, from Assyria.”

51 tn Heb “in the day” (so KJV).



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