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Isaiah 1:10

Context

1:10 Listen to the Lord’s word,

you leaders of Sodom! 1 

Pay attention to our God’s rebuke, 2 

people of Gomorrah!

Isaiah 1:23

Context

1:23 Your officials are rebels, 3 

they associate with 4  thieves.

All of them love bribery,

and look for 5  payoffs. 6 

They do not take up the cause of the orphan, 7 

or defend the rights of the widow. 8 

1 sn Building on the simile of v. 9, the prophet sarcastically addresses the leaders and people of Jerusalem as if they were leaders and residents of ancient Sodom and Gomorrah. The sarcasm is appropriate, for if the judgment is comparable to Sodom’s, that must mean that the sin which prompted the judgment is comparable as well.

2 tn Heb “to the instruction of our God.” In this context, which is highly accusatory and threatening, תּוֹרָה (torah, “law, instruction”) does not refer to mere teaching, but to corrective teaching and rebuke.

3 tn Or “stubborn”; CEV “have rejected me.”

4 tn Heb “and companions of” (so KJV, NASB); CEV “friends of crooks.”

5 tn Heb “pursue”; NIV “chase after gifts.”

6 sn Isaiah may have chosen the word for gifts (שַׁלְמוֹנִים, shalmonim; a hapax legomena here), as a sarcastic pun on what these rulers should have been doing. Instead of attending to peace and wholeness (שָׁלוֹם, shalom), they sought after payoffs (שַׁלְמוֹנִים).

7 sn See the note at v. 17.

8 sn The rich oppressors referred to in Isaiah and the other eighth century prophets were not rich capitalists in the modern sense of the word. They were members of the royal military and judicial bureaucracies in Israel and Judah. As these bureaucracies grew, they acquired more and more land and gradually commandeered the economy and legal system. At various administrative levels bribery and graft become commonplace. The common people outside the urban administrative centers were vulnerable to exploitation in such a system, especially those, like widows and orphans, who had lost their family provider through death. Through confiscatory taxation, conscription, excessive interest rates, and other oppressive governmental measures and policies, they were gradually disenfranchised and lost their landed property, and with it, their rights as citizens. The socio-economic equilibrium envisioned in the law of Moses was radically disturbed.



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