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Isaiah 56

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The Lord Invites Outsiders to Enter

56:1 This is what the Lord says,

“Promote 1  justice! Do what is right!

For I am ready to deliver you;

I am ready to vindicate you openly. 2 

56:2 The people who do this will be blessed, 3 

the people who commit themselves to obedience, 4 

who observe the Sabbath and do not defile it,

who refrain from doing anything that is wrong. 5 

56:3 No foreigner who becomes a follower of 6  the Lord should say,

‘The Lord will certainly 7  exclude me from his people.’

The eunuch should not say,

‘Look, I am like a dried-up tree.’”

56:4 For this is what the Lord says:

“For the eunuchs who observe my Sabbaths

and choose what pleases me

and are faithful to 8  my covenant,

56:5 I will set up within my temple and my walls a monument 9 

that will be better than sons and daughters.

I will set up a permanent monument 10  for them that will remain.

56:6 As for foreigners who become followers of 11  the Lord and serve him,

who love the name of the Lord and want to be his servants –

all who observe the Sabbath and do not defile it,

and who are faithful to 12  my covenant –

56:7 I will bring them to my holy mountain;

I will make them happy in the temple where people pray to me. 13 

Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar,

for my temple will be known as a temple where all nations may pray.” 14 

56:8 The sovereign Lord says this,

the one who gathers the dispersed of Israel:

“I will still gather them up.” 15 

The Lord Denounces Israel’s Paganism

56:9 All you wild animals in the fields, come and devour,

all you wild animals in the forest!

56:10 All their watchmen 16  are blind,

they are unaware. 17 

All of them are like mute dogs,

unable to bark.

They pant, 18  lie down,

and love to snooze.

56:11 The dogs have big appetites;

they are never full. 19 

They are shepherds who have no understanding;

they all go their own way,

each one looking for monetary gain. 20 

56:12 Each one says, 21 

‘Come on, I’ll get some wine!

Let’s guzzle some beer!

Tomorrow will be just like today!

We’ll have everything we want!’ 22 

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1 tn Heb “guard”; KJV “Keep”; NAB “Observe”; NASB “Preserve”; NIV, NRSV “Maintain.”

2 tn Heb “for near is my deliverance to enter, and my vindication [or “righteousness”] to be revealed.”

3 tn Heb “blessed is the man who does this.”

4 tn Heb “the son of mankind who takes hold of it.”

5 tn Heb and who keeps his hand from doing any evil.”

6 tn Heb “who attaches himself to.”

7 tn The infinitive absolute precedes the finite verb for emphasis.

8 tn Heb “and take hold of” (so KJV); NASB “hold fast.”

9 tn Heb “a hand and a name.” For other examples where יָד (yad) refers to a monument, see HALOT 388 s.v.

10 tn Heb “name” (so KJV, NIV, NRSV).

11 tn Heb “who attach themselves to.”

12 tn Heb “and take hold of”; NAB “hold to”; NIV, NRSV “hold fast.”

13 tn Heb “in the house of my prayer.”

14 tn Heb “for my house will be called a house of prayer for all the nations.”

15 tn The meaning of the statement is unclear. The text reads literally, “Still I will gather upon him to his gathered ones.” Perhaps the preposition -לְ (lamed) before “gathered ones” introduces the object of the verb, as in Jer 49:5. The third masculine singular suffix on both עָלָיו (’alayv) and נִקְבָּצָיו (niqbatsayv) probably refers to “Israel.” In this case one can translate literally, “Still I will gather to him his gathered ones.”

16 sn The “watchmen” are probably spiritual leaders, most likely prophets and priests, responsible for giving the people moral direction.

17 tn Heb “they do not know”; KJV “they are all ignorant”; NIV “they all lack knowledge.”

18 tn The Hebrew text has הֹזִים (hozim), which appears to be derived from an otherwise unattested verbal root הָזָה (hazah). On the basis of alleged cognates, BDB 223 s.v. הָזָה offers the definition “dream, rave” while HALOT 243 s.v. הזה lists “pant.” In this case the dog metaphor of the preceding lines continues. The reference to dogs at the beginning of v. 11 favors the extension of the metaphor. The Qumran scroll 1QIsaa has חזים (“seers”) here. In this case the “watchmen” are directly identified as prophets and depicted as lazy.

19 sn The phrase never full alludes to the greed of the leaders.

20 tn Heb “for his gain from his end.”

21 tn The words “each one says” are supplied in the translation for clarification.

22 tn Heb “great, [in] abundance, very much,” i.e., “very great indeed.” See HALOT 452 s.v. יֶתֶר.



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