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Isaiah 14:29-32

Context

14:29 Don’t be so happy, all you Philistines,

just because the club that beat you has been broken! 1 

For a viper will grow out of the serpent’s root,

and its fruit will be a darting adder. 2 

14:30 The poor will graze in my pastures; 3 

the needy will rest securely.

But I will kill your root by famine;

it will put to death all your survivors. 4 

14:31 Wail, O city gate!

Cry out, O city!

Melt with fear, 5  all you Philistines!

For out of the north comes a cloud of smoke,

and there are no stragglers in its ranks. 6 

14:32 How will they respond to the messengers of this nation? 7 

Indeed, the Lord has made Zion secure;

the oppressed among his people will find safety in her.

1 sn The identity of this “club” (also referred to as a “serpent” in the next line) is uncertain. It may refer to an Assyrian king, or to Ahaz. For discussion see J. N. Oswalt, Isaiah (NICOT), 1:331-32. The viper/adder referred to in the second half of the verse is his successor.

2 tn Heb “flying burning one.” The designation “burning one” may allude to the serpent’s appearance or the effect of its poisonous bite. (See the note at 6:2.) The qualifier “flying” probably refers to the serpent’s quick, darting movements, though one might propose a homonym here, meaning “biting.” (See J. N. Oswalt, Isaiah [NICOT], 1:332, n. 18.) Some might think in terms of a mythological flying, fire breathing dragon (cf. NAB “a flying saraph”; CEV “a flying fiery dragon”), but this proposal does not make good sense in 30:6, where the phrase “flying burning one” appears again in a list of desert animals.

3 tc The Hebrew text has, “the firstborn of the poor will graze.” “Firstborn” may be used here in an idiomatic sense to indicate the very poorest of the poor. See BDB 114 s.v. בְּכוֹר. The translation above assumes an emendation of בְּכוֹרֵי (bÿkhorey, “firstborn of”) to בְּכָרַי (bekharay, “in my pastures”).

4 tn Heb “your remnant” (so NAB, NRSV).

5 tn Or “despair” (see HALOT 555 s.v. מוג). The form נָמוֹג (namog) should be taken here as an infinitive absolute functioning as an imperative. See GKC 199-200 §72.v.

6 tn Heb “and there is no one going alone in his appointed places.” The meaning of this line is uncertain. בּוֹדֵד (boded) appears to be a participle from בָּדַד (badad, “be separate”; see BDB 94 s.v. בָּדַד). מוֹעָד (moad) may mean “assembly” or, by extension, “multitude” (see HALOT 558 s.v. *מוֹעָד), but the referent of the third masculine pronominal suffix attached to the noun is unclear. It probably refers to the “nation” mentioned in the next line.

7 sn The question forces the Philistines to consider the dilemma they will face – surrender and oppression, or battle and death.



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