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Isaiah 11:1-9

Context
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 

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.



TIP #08: Use the Strong Number links to learn about the original Hebrew and Greek text. [ALL]
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