He will not judge by mere appearances, 2
or make decisions on the basis of hearsay. 3
He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, 7
and order the wicked to be executed. 8
11:5 Justice will be like a belt around his waist,
integrity will be like a belt around his hips. 9
1 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.
2 tn Heb “by what appears to his eyes”; KJV “after the sight of his eyes”; NIV “by what he sees with his eyes.”
3 tn Heb “by what is heard by his ears”; NRSV “by what his ears hear.”
4 tn Heb “with justice” (so NAB) or “with righteousness” (so KJV, NASB, NIV, NRSV).
5 tn Heb “make decisions with rectitude”; cf. ASV, NRSV “and decide with equity.”
6 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).
7 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).
8 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.
9 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.